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Smoking and Dental Implants

May 8th, 2024

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to replace a missing tooth with an implant. While an implant will restore the appearance of your smile, you also know that there are many reasons that an implant will improve your health, too.

A missing tooth causes structural problems as well as cosmetic ones. Remaining teeth can shift to fill the gap, leading to wear and bite problems. Without the stimulation of biting and chewing, bone tissue under the lost tooth gradually shrinks and is resorbed. The shapes of our jaws, cheeks and lips can be affected. Replacing a lost tooth with an implant can not only restore the appearance of your smile, but maintain it.

And implant procedures have a very high rate of success. Implants are made of materials compatible with the body, and surgically placed in the jaw to act as anchors for replacement teeth. The implant will actually integrate with the bone growing around it for strong, stable, and long-lasting support. After the time it takes for the implant to integrate and the area around it to heal, a crown, designed to match your own teeth perfectly, will be securely attached to the implant post.

What can you do to help the healing process? Follow our instructions carefully. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will give you suggestions for the time immediately following the procedure as well as instructions on the importance of keeping the area clean while healing takes place. And one very important favor you can do yourself? If you smoke, this is the time to stop.

Studies have shown that smokers have a significantly increased risk of dental problems and implant failures, and there are several theories as to why.

  • Smoking slows the healing process. Some studies indicate that smoking impairs blood flow in the gums, so that less oxygen and fewer nutrients are delivered to healing tissue.
  • Smokers tend to be more vulnerable to gum disease.
  • Smoking has been linked to a weaker immune system, so it’s harder to fight off an infection or to heal from one.
  • More marginal bone loss around implants is seen in smokers than in non-smokers.
  • Peri-implantitis, an inflammation of the gum tissue around the implant that can lead to bone loss and implant failure, is also more common in smokers.

Now that you have decided on a dental implant at our Middleton, WI office, make one more decision to ensure the success of the procedure. Talk to us about ways to quit smoking before your implant, and how to reduce the chance of smoking-related complications. We know that quitting can be difficult, but your improved smile—and your improved health—are worth it!

Three Reasons We're Fans of Fluoride

May 8th, 2024

Why all the fuss about fluoride? Your dentist recommends it, your toothpaste is formulated with it, most of our drinking water contains it. Just what is it about this mineral that makes dental professionals sing its praises? Read on for three good reasons why fluoride is a healthy choice for healthier teeth.

  1. Fluoride Works!

Fluoride is an attractive option for protecting your teeth—and we mean that literally. Fluoride protects the surface of your teeth by working on a molecular level to attract minerals which strengthen enamel and help prevent cavities.

Our tooth enamel is mostly made from calcium and phosphate ions. These elements combine to form hydroxyapatite, strong crystals which make up about 95% of our enamel. Hydroxyapatite is so strong, in fact, that tooth enamel is the hardest part of our bodies. What can go wrong?

Acids. Acids created by the bacteria in plaque and the acids in our diet strip away the calcium and phosphate ions in enamel, weakening the surface of the tooth. This process is called demineralization. Over time, weak spots become bigger as acids eat through enamel to the inner tooth, causing decay and cavities.

So, what can fluoride do?

First, fluoride helps remineralize tooth enamel. Fluoride is attracted to the tooth’s surface and bonds with its minerals. It also attracts the calcium and phosphate ions which are found in our saliva to restore any minerals which have been lost. This process helps repair any weak spots that might have begun to form.

But fluoride does more than restore and repair tooth strength—it improves it! Fluoride ions join with calcium and phosphate to form fluorapatite crystals, which are larger and stronger than hydroxyapatite crystals.

Want more? Fluoride may interfere with bacterial plaque’s ability to produce acids. Since plaque and its acids are a major cause of gum disease, brushing with a fluoride toothpaste is a great way to help prevent plaque buildup around and below the gum line—buildup that leads to irritated, inflamed, and infected gum tissue.

  1. Fluoride Is Doubly Effective

Fluoride works both externally and internally. We just looked at how fluoride helps keep teeth strong when applied to the outside of the teeth. This is called a topical application. Systemic benefits come the fluoride we consume in our diets.

Fluoride isn’t found in many foods, but it is found naturally in lakes, rivers, and other water sources. When the local water’s fluoride level is low, many communities add fluoride for its proven ability to prevent cavities. Water fluoridation is safe, has been studied for decades, and has been shown to reduce the risk of cavities by 25% or more for both children and adults.

Systemic fluoride is especially important for your child’s dental health. This is because fluoride incorporates with minerals in the adult teeth while they are growing and developing, creating stronger, more cavity-resistant teeth even before they erupt. Most adult teeth have finished forming around age eight, so, if your community doesn’t have fluoridated water, it’s a good idea to discuss other options with your child’s dentist.

And we grown-ups benefit, too! When you drink fluoridated water, you’re increasing the amount of fluoride in your saliva. Just like fluoride toothpaste, saliva bathes your teeth with fluoride ions, strengthening the tooth surface, and helping to neutralize the acids which damage teeth and gums.

  1. It’s Easy to Get Fluoride Protection

Most toothpastes are formulated with fluoride, so you’re getting the enamel-strengthening benefits of this mineral whenever you brush—at least twice each day. Since children can’t really grasp the “rinsing” and “spitting” steps of the brushing routine just yet, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about how to introduce tiny amounts of fluoride toothpaste to your child’s dental routine. Baby steps!

Because so much of our drinking water is fluoridated, most of us really don’t have to think about how to get the recommended amount of fluoride each day. If your community’s water is low in fluoride, we can help you here as well. Prescription fluoride rinses, gels, supplements, and other treatments are available to make sure that your teeth are well-protected, wherever you may live. We will let you know which products are best for you and how often to use them during your next visit to our Middleton, WI dental office.

Fluoride isn’t, of course, the only way to look out for your dental health. Proper brushing and flossing are still essential for removing plaque. Check into sealants for both kids and adults for long-lasting protection for chewing surfaces. But when it comes to a proven cavity-fighter and plaque-reducer that is simple to use, effective, and easily available—is it any wonder we’re big fans of fluoride?

Adult Mouthguards

May 1st, 2024

You make sure your daughter wears her mouthguard to every soccer practice. Your son doesn’t step on the basketball court without his. Why not protect your smile as well?

Athletes of all ages in team or recreational sports can help prevent dental injuries with a protective mouthguard. If you bike or ski, play racquetball or squash, skate, or sky dive, a mouthguard will help keep your teeth and gums healthy as you keep fit.

Mouthguard Options

Our office will be happy to talk to you about whether a mouthguard is a practical addition to your workout gear. There are many options available to you, including:

Stock: Preformed appliances available at sporting goods stores and drugstores. These are the most affordable, but are a one-size-fits-all option and may not be a comfortable fit for you.

Boil-and-Bite: Also available at sports shops and drugstores. This guard is formed by placing it in hot water and then biting down to allow it to conform to the shape of your mouth.

Custom: Our Middleton, WI office can create a personalized mouthguard just for you. Individual mouthguards are the most durable and comfortable option, in general, and provide the best fit for ease of talking and breathing while exercising. You may also have special dental conditions, such as the placement of crowns or braces, which could be a factor in your decision.

Whichever option you choose, remember to wear your mouthguard regularly while exercising. A proper mouthguard cannot only help prevent injuries to your teeth, but to your face and jaw as well. A healthy smile and a healthy body are a winning combination. The next time you visit Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk, let’s talk sports!

Spring Cleaning

May 1st, 2024

Just like that, it’s almost summertime. As the spring season ends, perhaps these lighter, brighter days are inspiring you to do a bit of last-minute spring cleaning. Or perhaps they’re not. No judgment here!

What we can recommend wholeheartedly is finishing the season with a clean, sparkling smile. And we have some bright ideas for you!

Refresh Your Cleaning Technique

Tooth brushing can become so automatic that we don’t think about the basics anymore. And suddenly, we’ve finished brushing in half the time we used to, and, hey, how long has that floss been sitting on the counter, anyway? We suggest some mindful cleaning for a healthier smile.

  • Spend two minutes brushing, at least twice each day.
  • Make sure you reach all the surfaces of your teeth, inside, outside, and on top of your molars.
  • Use short, gentle brush strokes, covering a tooth or two at a time.
  • Angle your brush to clean along the gum line. Plaque around the gums leads to irritation and inflammation, and is a common cause of gum disease.
  • Use vertical strokes to clean the inside of your front teeth.
  • Floss at least once each day.

Good Cleaning Requires Good Tools

Since we’re tidying up, let’s talk about some helpful cleaning tools. Is your toothbrush looking a bit—long in the tooth?  

After three to four months of brushing, your toothbrush bristles start to break down. Frayed and matted bristles can’t clean as effectively as a toothbrush in top shape. Each change of season is a good time to remind yourself to change brushes.

And, while you’re shopping, remember:

  • Soft bristles are almost always all any brusher needs. Even medium bristles can be abrasive to tooth enamel. And brush gently—scrubbing is also abrasive.
  • If you use an electric toothbrush, those toothbrush heads need to be replaced, too! In fact, because these brushes often have shorter bristles, heads might need to be replaced every two to three months.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste to clean and protect your teeth.
  • Don’t forget the floss!

If you’re not a fan of your current floss, take another look at the dental aisle in your local store. There are lots of new flossing options out there just waiting to be sampled. If manual flossing is difficult, consider a water flosser. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can help you find just the right floss for your one-of-a-kind smile.

And speaking of your dental team . . .

Some Cleaning Jobs Require Professional Help

Dentists typically recommend a professional cleaning at our Middleton, WI office twice a year to make sure you’re free from built up plaque and tartar. How does your dental team go about getting your teeth cleaner than you can get them at home? With special training and special tools.

  • Plaque and tartar need to be removed from tooth enamel above and below the gum line to prevent cavities and gum disease, and tartar can only be removed by a dental professional. Your hygienist might use an ultrasonic scaler, a hand scaler, or both to gently scrape away sticky plaque and hard tartar.
  • Teeth are polished with a gentle abrasive to remove surface stains. This can be done with a special toothpaste applied with a small rotating cup, or with an air polisher, which removes stains with a stream of fine abrasive powder, water, and pressurized air.
  • An expert flossing will remove any remaining plaque from between the teeth.

Bonus: Your hygienist can point out spots you’ve been missing to help make your home brushing and flossing more effective.

Clean and Bright

Increasing daylight can brighten your mood—and so can a whiter smile! Over time, smiles get dimmer without our even noticing, thanks to tooth-staining foods and drinks, medications, smoking, or thinning enamel as we age. If you’re feeling self-conscious because your smile isn’t its sparkling best, consider a whitening treatment.

  • Whitening Toothpastes

Whitening toothpastes use chemicals and mild abrasives to remove surface stains caused by foods, beverages, and smoking. If you’d like to give a whitening toothpaste a try, ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for suggestions.

  • Whitening Strips and Gel Trays

Whitening gels can be applied at home with strips or tray kits. These peroxide-based gels are stronger than the formulas used in toothpaste, but can be irritating. Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk to learn how to achieve the best and safest outcome with these products.

  • Office Treatment

Whitening treatments at our Middleton, WI office are generally faster, more effective, and last longer because this process uses a more powerful whitening agent. That’s why it should only be applied by a dental professional, who will examine and prepare your teeth, protect the surrounding gum tissue, and monitor your treatment throughout.

Spring’s coming to an end, but taking care of your dental health is always in season! A clean smile isn’t just a more confident smile, it’s a healthier one. Talk to your dentist for more tips to create your best and brightest smile at any time of year.

Fluoride Treatments—They’re Not Just for Kids!

April 24th, 2024

Fluoride has been one of the great game-changers in children’s dental health. Drinking fluoridated water. Using fluoride toothpaste. Scheduling fluoride treatments. All of these child-friendly dental habits help prevent cavities and strengthen tooth enamel.

And we adults enjoy the benefits of fluoride as well. Drinking fluoridated water. Using fluoride toothpaste. If only we hadn’t outgrown fluoride treatments… or have we? Time to have an adult conversation about fluoride treatments!

  • To Start, Some Dental Chemistry

The enamel in our teeth is largely made of calcium and phosphate ions. These elements combine to form hydroxyapatite, the mineral crystals that make teeth and bones so hard and strong. But enamel isn’t indestructible. The oral bacteria in plaque create acids that cause demineralization, stripping away calcium and phosphate ions. This leaves the tooth surface weakened and vulnerable to decay.

Our bodies have a way of compensating for demineralization. Saliva is filled with calcium and phosphate ions that restore lost minerals. This balancing act goes on every day. When conditions in the mouth are too acidic, however, remineralization can’t take place as effectively. Here’s where fluoride is so beneficial.

  • Why Fluoride?

First, because fluoride helps remineralize. Fluoride works on the surface of the tooth to attract the calcium and phosphate ions in our saliva, restoring them to our teeth. Even better, it joins with these ions to create fluorapatite. Fluorapatite crystals are larger, stronger, and more resistant to acids than hydroxyapatite. This means your teeth are not only remineralized, but stronger than they were originally!

  • Why Adult Fluoride Treatments?

While fluoridated water and fluoride toothpaste might be all you need for strong enamel, there are several conditions that make fluoride treatments a good addition to your preventive care at our Middleton, WI office.

  • Problems with dental hygiene. Consider fluoride treatment if you have trouble brushing and flossing, if you wear braces, or if there’s any other reason that makes daily cleaning more difficult.
  • Exposed roots. Gums often recede as we age, and can pull away from the teeth even further with added factors like gum disease, harsh brushing habits, teeth grinding, or smoking. As gums recede, parts of the tooth roots are exposed. Because roots are covered with cementum instead of the much harder enamel, they are more vulnerable to decay.
  • Dry mouth. Medical conditions, medications, and aging can cause a decrease in saliva production. Because saliva helps wash away food particles and bacteria, bathes the teeth with minerals that strengthen enamel, and neutralizes acids, less saliva can equal more cavities.
  • Our individual biology. Some of us are born with weaker tooth enamel, and so are more at risk for cavities—even with great brushing and flossing habits.

In all of these cases, fluoride treatments can provide the extra protection you might need for stronger tooth enamel and improved dental health.

  • Treatments Are an Easy Addition to Your Dental Appointment

Regular fluoride treatments are neither complicated nor time-consuming. Fluoride can be administered as a varnish, a gel, a rinse, or a foam. It can be applied with a brush, a swab, as a mouthwash, or in a tray. After application, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will let you know if any follow up instructions, such as avoiding food and drink for 30 minutes after treatment, are necessary. That’s all there is to it. Protection lasts for months, and your dentist can let you know when a re-application is needed.

You’re doing the right thing by using a fluoride toothpaste and keeping up with your dental exams and cleanings. Ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk if a fluoride treatment is something that could strengthen your teeth and help prevent decay—it could be a game-changer for your dental health!

Thirsty? We Have Some Ideas on Tap

April 24th, 2024

No, we don’t mean the latest foamy offering from your favorite microbrewery. When you’re thirsty, one of the best options available is literally at your fingertips—tap water, straight from your faucet. It might not be the most adventurous choice, but drinking a tall glass of fresh tap water is refreshing in so many healthy ways.

Physical Health

Water conveniently available at home is much more than a convenience. We need to keep hydrated, because our bodies are made to run on water. To name just a few of its benefits, water provides nutrients to organs and cells, eliminates waste, regulates our temperature, and protects our joints and delicate tissues. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our Middleton, WI team will tell you all about the importance of proper hydration when it comes to your mouth, gums, and teeth, but here are a few highlights:

  • We need to be hydrated to produce enough saliva. Saliva, which is more than 90% water, helps prevent cavities and protect enamel by both washing away bacteria and balancing acids in the mouth which can cause decay.
  • Tooth enamel is so strong because it’s made of calcium and phosphate. These minerals are leached from our enamel by both bacteria-produced acids and dietary acids. Saliva also contains calcium and phosphate, and, with fluoride, restores these minerals in our enamel, leaving teeth stronger and less likely to develop cavities.
  • As a bonus, a quick rinse with water when you can’t brush after eating is a great way to remove food particles left behand—especially healthy when you’ve had sugary or acidic foods.

Ecological Health

If you want to reduce waste, one of the easiest ways to do so is to use tap water instead of bottled water.

  • Bottled water has a carbon footprint. It takes energy (and additional water) to create plastic and glass bottles, to label them, and to transport them. Water piped into your home from local sources? No bottles, labels, or long road trips necessary.
  • Water bottles should be recycled. Unfortunately, many cities don’t offer, or have stopped offering, recycling. Plastic and glass empties end up in landfills, littering our neighborhoods, or in our waters.

Budget Health

Getting your daily hydration from bottles can add up quickly.

  • Bottled water can cost hundreds of times as much as tap water. While local water prices vary, the average gallon of tap water costs less than a penny. No matter what kind of sale your local store is offering, bottled water will never be the bargain tap water is.
  • When you buy many small bottles instead of a few larger ones, or choose more expensive “designer” water, your costs can mount up even more.
  • When you need to bring water with you for work, sports, or other activities, consider filling a reusable bottle with water from home.

Dental Health

Getting the recommended amount of fluoride in your diet is one of the single best things you can do for your dental health. Fortunately, many communities make this easy for us by providing fluoridated drinking water.

  • Fluoride works with the calcium and phosphate in your saliva to create stronger enamel, so cavities can’t form as easily when your teeth are exposed to plaque and food particles.
  • Fluoride helps strengthen your child’s permanent teeth as they develop, and helps prevent cavities in both baby teeth and permanent teeth as children grow.
  • If your community doesn’t offer fluoridated water, ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for the best way to get the fluoride you need to protect your teeth.

For the good of your body, your planet, your wallet, and last, but most certainly not least, the health of your teeth and gums, consider a glass of water. So many benefits—and you have them all on tap!

There’s an App for That!

April 17th, 2024

We live in a tech-savvy world, and dental professionals take advantage of it! Digital imaging, convenient record storage and sharing, even more comfortable denture design—these are just some of the ways dentists can use modern technology to make our time in the office more efficient and more effective.

And since modern software developers have given us a program for just about everything, it’s no surprise that you can find apps to help make your home dental care more convenient and perhaps even more effective, too. What can an app do for you?

  • Brushing and Flossing? Apply Yourself!

A big part of making your smile look its best is the care you take at home. This means keeping up with daily brushing and flossing, and using proper technique. Two minutes brushing, twice each day, and flossing at least once a day are the basic recommendations for preventing cavities and gum disease.

And to help you make sure you get a solid two minutes of brushing twice a day? Try an app that plays two minutes of your favorite music with a perfectly timed brushing playlist. Apps can also send you brushing and flossing reminders, let you know when it’s time to change your toothbrush (every three months, please!), and give you tips on better brushing and flossing techniques.

And for the kids in the house? There are apps just for children that use music and games to help teach them how—and how long—to brush, for an enjoyable and even educational brushing experience.

  • Keep Track of Your Appointments

Your dentist is your partner in preventative care. Regular examinations and professional cleanings at our Middleton, WI office not only make sure problems are caught before they become serious, they can help prevent problems from developing in the first place.

There are many apps out there that are designed to help you keep your dental care on track with appointment reminders. This sounds pretty basic, but when you have work, school, volunteering, sports, and activities filling your days, it doesn’t hurt to get a timely reminder that Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk should be seeing you for a checkup and a cleaning in the near future.

  • Mapping Out Your Dental Care

Have an electric toothbrush? There just might be an app available designed to work especially with your model. These handy apps can let you know if you’re brushing long enough. They can alert you if you’re brushing too hard, which is not good for your enamel. Some apps can provide a map that lets you know just where you’ve brushed, in case you tend to neglect a few spots.

If you or a family member are thinking about orthodontic treatment, you’re in luck!

Not sure just how you’ll look in braces? Get a preview with an app that uses one of your selfies to model different types and styles of braces, brackets, bands, and aligners. Metal brackets? Ceramic? Elastic bands in your choice of colors? No bands at all? Hardly visible aligners? Find the look that works for you.

There are apps which can keep track of the hours you wear your aligners, or alert you to put on or replace your elastic bands if you wear traditional braces. Some apps even let you track your progress with selfies or “countdown” features.

  • When Problems Happen

There are apps which can help you with basic dental questions. Apps can let you know that symptoms like a discolored tooth mean you should give your dentist a call, or provide instructions for taking care of simple problems, such as applying wax to an irritating bracket. Always remember, though, an app is not a dentist, and can’t diagnose or suggest treatment. If you have a problem or concern, call us immediately.

  • Dentist Approved

If you’ve checked out the dental apps available for your operating system, you know that there are a lot of options out there. To help you find the best app for you and your family, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk.

We might know just the app for your specific dental needs, whether you’re looking to brush up on brushing techniques, organize your time more efficiently, manage your dental care, or simply make your family’s dental activities a little more fun. It’s a tech-savvy world—take advantage of it!

I’ve lost a filling; now what?

April 17th, 2024

Dental fillings usually protect our teeth, but sometimes they need to be protected, too. If you lose a filling, contact our Middleton, WI office immediately and let us advise you on the next steps to take.

Fillings serve an important function in oral health by preserving the structural integrity of your tooth. With the materials we use today, dental fillings usually last for many years, but they are subjected to the same stresses as your natural teeth are.

You can wear down, chip, crack, or break your fillings by eating, clenching, and grinding, and sometimes they can fall out completely. While you may not notice normal wear and tear, you should not ignore any fillings that loosen or fall out. Contact us as soon as possible so we can advise you about whether you need to be seen immediately.

If your fillings get damaged or fall out, a timely response can be important. There may be gaps or holes in your tooth which provide an easy access point for bacteria. Once bacteria begin working into your tooth structure, your tooth could become damaged even worse. Since cavities usually form in hard-to-reach places, it will be difficult for you to remove these bacteria through brushing alone.

When is a lost filling an emergency?

A lost or cracked filling is usually not an emergency unless you are in great pain or are bleeding excessively. In that case, contact our office immediately so we can schedule an emergency appointment. Otherwise we will schedule a regular appointment to evaluate and repair your filling. Before coming in for your appointment, try to avoid chewing on that side of your mouth, rinse with warm salt water, and be sure to brush and floss thoroughly after every meal.

Once you come to our office, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will examine your tooth, assess the situation, and advise you of your options. We may be able to replace the filling and can discuss whether an amalgam or composite material would be the best for your teeth. If the filling was large, a root canal or a dental implant and crown may be necessary.

A lost or cracked filling may not always pose a dental emergency, but it’s always important to contact us so our team can help you take the proper action to preserve your oral health.

What to Do for Your Loose Tooth

April 10th, 2024

One of the first exciting childhood experiences we outgrow is the excitement of discovering a loose tooth. Sadly, there’s no adult Tooth Fairy waiting to exchange a gift for a lost tooth, and, even worse, there’s no backup tooth all set to replace it.

If one of your permanent teeth is feeling a little less than permanent, don’t ignore the problem! Here are four things to do right away when you discover a loose tooth:

Eat Soft Foods

While you’ll probably automatically take caramels off the menu and ditch your chewing gum, crunchy foods such as nuts, chips, even apples can be a problem for a compromised tooth. Stick with soft foods and try to eat on the opposite side of your loose tooth.

Keep the Area Clean

The typical bacteria and food particles in your mouth won’t thoughtfully leave the area around your wiggly tooth untouched. But your normal brushing and flossing might be a little too much for a loose tooth. Gently rinsing with warm water should do the trick until you can see us.

Leave It Alone

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to do nothing. But when it comes to a loose tooth, please choose this course of (in)action. You might recall having a loose tooth as a child, and how you’d automatically wiggle it with your tongue or your fingers. But you’ll also remember what happened at the end of all that wiggling—your baby tooth fell out.

Teeth are held in place by ligaments attached to the alveolar bone in the jaw. When those ligaments or bone are damaged because of injury or infection, your tooth feels loose. Wiggling your tooth back and forth can cause further detachment and expose you to more bacteria. So even though it might be tempting, leave your tooth alone until you can see us.

Call Your Dentist Immediately

The most important tip of all! Call Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk at once if you notice a loose tooth. It’s important to discover not only the best treatment, but the reason for your loose tooth as well. A loose tooth can be caused by several different conditions, and none of them should be ignored.

  • A blow to your mouth

If your tooth, ligaments, or bone have suffered trauma, your dentist might be able to stabilize your loose tooth with a splint so that ligament and tissue can heal.

  • Gum disease

Periodontitis (severe gum disease) is a chronic condition. Pockets form between your gums and teeth that become home to bacteria and infection. Over time, periodontitis can destroy gum, ligament, and bone tissue. Left untreated, it leads to loose teeth and even tooth loss. Gum disease is reversable when caught early enough, and even in later stages can respond well to a variety of treatments.

  • Pregnancy

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause the ligaments and bones around your teeth to loosen, and loose teeth are the result. While this situation is usually temporary, taking care of your teeth and gums is essential during pregnancy, and Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will have many important recommendations for your dental health.

  • Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Your jaw and teeth can exert hundreds of pounds of pressure. When you spend your sleep hours grinding them, that force is applied to your teeth and the ligaments holding them. Small wonder that bruxism can lead to loose teeth. Your dentist will have ideas to help you stop teeth grinding, from behavioral changes to custom night guards.

Osteoporosis, bite problems, oral cancer, and other conditions can also cause loose teeth. Any condition that causes loose teeth should always be evaluated immediately to prevent more serious medical or dental problems.

Sometimes a loose tooth can’t be saved, and a professional extraction is the best solution. But if there’s a chance to save your tooth, treating the tooth carefully and visiting our Middleton, WI office at once improve your odds considerably. Because there’s no adult Tooth Fairy, and really, no coins under a pillow will ever be as valuable as a beautiful, healthy smile.

Gum Disease in Children

April 10th, 2024

When it comes to gum disease and your child, it’s a good news/bad news situation. The very good news is that children rarely suffer from advanced gum disease, or periodontitis. The not-so-good news? Early gum disease, called gingivitis, is unfortunately an all-too-common childhood problem.

  • What does gingivitis look like in children?

Childhood gingivitis has the same causes and symptoms as the adult version. Healthy gums are firm and pink. When bacteria and plaque accumulate on the teeth, your child’s gums become irritated and inflamed. Call our Middleton, WI office right away if you notice any of these symptoms of gingivitis: bleeding gums, puffiness, redness, gum tissue receding from the teeth, or bad breath even after brushing.       

  • How to Prevent Gingivitis

The most common cause of gingivitis is poor dental care. Creating a regular dental routine is the best way to prevent gingivitis from ever developing! Brushing and flossing with your child for two minutes twice a day from the very beginning helps make healthy cleaning a lifelong habit. Care should be taken to gently brush teeth at the gum line to make sure plaque doesn’t get a chance to build up there and cause gum irritation. And when your child comes in for regular cleanings, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can be sure that any plaque that might remain on the teeth is removed.

Two additional notes: as your child approaches adolescence, hormone fluctuations can make gums more sensitive and easily irritated. This is a time to really emphasize careful and gentle brushing and flossing. Also, some medical conditions may make children more pre-disposed to gum problems, so be sure to make us aware of your child’s medical history.

  • Uncommon Gum Diseases

While gingivitis is very preventable with proper dental hygiene, there are some rare gum conditions that can occur around the time of puberty that are quite different from gingivitis. Aggressive Periodontitis can cause severe bone loss around the first molars and incisors, even without any kind of plaque build-up, and Generalized Aggressive Periodontitis leads to inflammation of the gums, heavy plaque, and, eventually, loose teeth. Again, these conditions are rare, but if you have a family history of these diseases, let us know. Checkups and cleanings are a great way to catch any potential gum problems, so be sure to bring your child in for regular visits.

Almost all childhood gingivitis is preventable. With careful brushing and flossing at home, and visiting us regularly for checkups and cleanings, your child can enjoy healthy gums and teeth now and learn habits that will keep those gums and teeth healthy for a lifetime. And that is a good news/great news situation!

Teeth Grinding: Not just a bad habit, but a dental concern

April 3rd, 2024

Perhaps you don't even know you grind your teeth. Maybe a spouse or loved one woke you up in the middle of the night and made you aware of what was happening.

For many people, teeth grinding is a habit and a mechanical reflex; when they’re awakened and informed they were grinding their teeth, they have no recollection of it at all. According to the American Dental Association, this is the nightly situation for roughly ten percent of Americans. From young children to the elderly, teeth grinding, known in the dental community as bruxism, is a serious concern.

Many people who grind their teeth in their sleep have no idea they're doing it. In fact, when they wake up in the morning they feel no jaw pain and their teeth are fine: if it hadn’t been for someone telling them about it, the teeth grinding would have gone unnoticed.

There are other people, however, who wake up with jaw pain, shoulder and neck pain, and headaches. Teeth grinding can cause a host of dental complications. From cracked teeth and receding gums to a misaligned jaw, teeth grinding is not something to take lightly.

Preventive measures are the key to combating bruxism, and a visit to hartstone dental can set you on the path to a healthy and safe night sleep.

The Reasons for Teeth Grinding

There are many reasons for teeth grinding. For some people, it’s a habit they acquired when they were a child and never grew out of. On the other hand, some research claims that the condition is related to stress, anxiety, or some other type of psychiatric issue.

Still other studies point to everything from poor muscle control or over-eating before bed to gastro-esophageal issues. However, the root cause of the teeth grinding is less important than identifying preventive measures against it.

Common solutions to teeth grinding include:

  • Wearing a protective nightguard
  • Stress management techniques
  • Medications and muscle relaxers

When you make an appointment with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk at our Middleton, WI office, we will assess your situation and determine what the best course of action is. Teeth grinding is a dental concern that can cause serious health issues down the road, so be sure to take preventive measures today.

Snowball Effect

April 3rd, 2024

Winter and its snowball fights are behind us, true, but there might be another kind of snowball heading your way—the snowball effect you risk when small dental concerns are ignored and left to grow into much more serious dental problems.

Here are three early symptoms that might seem minor, but shouldn’t be overlooked:

Sensitivity

Ouch! A sip of something hot, a spoonful of something cold, and you find yourself wincing because your teeth are so sensitive. If this sensitivity continues, call Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk. Tooth sensitivity can be a sign of:

  • Bad Brushing Technique

Heavy handed brushing and hard-bristled brushes can be so abrasive that they cause enamel erosion and gum recession, making teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay. Your dentist and hygienist can recommend proper brushing techniques for clean and healthy teeth and gums.

  • Receding Gums

Without treatment, receding gums can pull further away from the teeth, creating pockets filled with bacteria. Serious infections can develop in these pockets, leading to loose teeth, bone loss, and, eventually, tooth loss.

  • Cavities

When a cavity has gotten large enough that it’s reached below the enamel into the more sensitive dentin, you can experience unpleasant twinges when eating or drinking hot, cold, or sweet foods, or even when air hits your teeth. It’s essential to treat any cavity before it grows large enough to reach the tooth’s pulp.

Persistent Bad Breath

Sure, it could have been that garlic anchovy pizza, but if you’ve eliminated odor-causing foods from your diet, if you brush and floss regularly and still have bad breath, it could be a sign of:

  • Gum Disease

The bacteria that cause gum infections have a distinct, unpleasant odor. If thorough brushing and flossing isn’t helping, it’s important to visit our Middleton, WI office to prevent more serious gum disease from developing.

  • Oral Infections

Bad breath can be caused by infections in the tooth, gums, or other oral tissues. If you experience persistent bad breath, a foul smell or taste in your mouth, or see any other signs of infection, see Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk promptly for a diagnosis. Left untreated, oral infections can damage teeth, tissue, and bone and spread to other areas of the body.

  • Medical Conditions

Bad breath can also be a symptom of medical conditions such as diabetes, sinus infections, and liver disease. If your dentist rules out dental issues as the cause of halitosis, it’s important to see your doctor for a checkup.

Intermittent Pain

When dental pain comes and goes, you might be tempted to postpone a checkup. But recurring pain can be a symptom of serious dental conditions, including:

  • Infection and Abscess

If you feel pain when you bite down, or throbbing pain around a tooth, it could be the sign of pulp inflammation or infection. Pulp injuries should always be treated immediately to avoid an abscess, a pocket of pus caused by bacterial infection. An abscess isn’t just painful, it’s dangerous, because it can cause bone loss around the tooth and spread infection throughout the body if not treated promptly.

  • Tooth Injury

Tooth trauma is a reason for an emergency call to your dentist. A cracked or broken tooth won’t get better on its own and should be treated at once to prevent infection and further damage.

  • Bruxism  

It’s no wonder you wake up with tooth and jaw pain when you grind your teeth—your jaws are producing hundreds of pounds of pressure on your teeth all night long. Over time, constant grinding will damage enamel and can chip and even crack teeth. Check out options like custom nightguards for healthier teeth and a better night’s sleep.

  • Malocclusion

Malocclusion is the medical term for a bad bite, a condition that is the result of your teeth and/or jaws not fitting together properly. As well as tooth and jaw pain and damaged teeth, misalignments cause many other difficulties in your daily life. Talk to your dentist about how orthodontic treatment can improve the health and appearance of your smile.

Don’t ignore “little” dental problems like these. For any persistent symptoms, hartstone dental is just a phone call away, to help you prevent those little problems from snowballing into major dental worries.

Dental Visits Are Not So Bad

March 27th, 2024

Many people dread going to the dentist. Dental visits have the reputation of being painful and uncomfortable, and it is common for people to compare unfortunate situations such as having a root canal or feeling the dentist’s drill. However, at hartstone dental, dental visits are not that bad.

Your regular cleaning and checkup are noninvasive. They require no drilling, Novocain, or needles, and you go home with refreshingly clean teeth. When your hygienist cleans your teeth, you are literally receiving individualized care from a professional as you sit back and relax.

In the days before the use of Novocain or other anesthetics, dental work could be painful. Thankfully, those days are gone! Now you are unlikely to feel a thing, even during the most extensive procedures. In addition, most dental work such as fillings, root canals, and crowns can be performed in one to two visits, so you do not need to keep returning to hartstone dental.

An incentive for getting over your fear and coming to the dentist is that getting your dental work done can dramatically improve your quality of life. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can address tooth problems that have caused toothaches or prevented you from eating the foods you like. As a bonus, regular visits with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our staff allow us to identify conditions such as periodontal disease, which can indicate risk for seemingly unrelated health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Clean Toothbrush/Healthy Toothbrush

March 27th, 2024

We’ve all learned a lot about keeping healthy lately. Thorough hand washing, disinfecting cell phones and keyboards, wiping down shopping carts and door handles—all these low-maintenance cleaning habits can have a high impact on our health.

So, in that spirit, let’s talk about low maintenance cleaning routines for something you put in your mouth at least twice a day—your toothbrush.

Brushing Habits

Don’t let germs hitch a ride on your toothbrush before you even begin! Make sure your hands are clean before brushing, and rinse off your toothbrush before you put it in your mouth.

After brushing, be sure to rinse your brush carefully to get rid of leftover toothpaste, food particles, and other debris. And don’t forget to clean your toothbrush holder regularly. Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk or your hygienist when you visit our Middleton, WI office for suggestions for deep cleaning brushes to eliminate bacteria if that’s a concern.

And while we’re talking about germs, how about…

  • Flushing Habits

Most toothbrushes share their living space with another bathroom essential—the toilet. Every time we flush, microscopic particles are propelled through the air. And while no definitive relationship has been shown between flushing and disease transmission, closing the toilet lid before flushing is an easy way to reduce unpleasant particle transmission—and reduce the possible risk of toothbrush contamination.

  • Airing? Yes!

Keeping a toothbrush in a dark, moist environment is the perfect setting for bacterial growth. Instead, let your toothbrush air dry after use in an upright position. Give it a shake first for a head start on the drying process.

  • Sharing? No

We’re not talking about sharing a brush, which you would never do. We’re talking about sharing toothbrush holders. If your brush touches other brushes, you’re probably sharing germs as well as space, which can be especially problematic if someone in the house has immune concerns. Toothbrushes shouldn’t be too close to other toothbrushes, no matter how close you are to the other brush’s owner!

Finally, no matter how well you take care of your toothbrush, there comes a time when you must part with even the cleanest and best-maintained of brushes. After three or four months, bristles become frayed. This means you’re not getting the most effective plaque-removal from your brush. And to be on the safe side, consider retiring your toothbrush if you’ve been ill.

Dental self-care is a vital part of keeping yourself healthy, and a clean toothbrush is a simple way to support your oral health. High impact/low maintenance—win/win.

A Word to the Wise about Wisdom Teeth

March 20th, 2024

There are some pretty exciting rewards to look forward to as you transition from your mid-teens to your 20s. Driving! Voting! Graduation! But there is one rite of passage that you might not be looking forward to quite so much: getting your wisdom teeth. What are wisdom teeth? When are they a problem? And, most important, how can Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk help?

Children have 20 baby teeth that are replaced as they grow up with 32 adult teeth. The last to arrive are the four third molars more commonly known as wisdom teeth. But that “32” number is a little flexible. Some people never develop wisdom teeth at all. You can stop reading here if you are one of this carefree group. The rest of us have from one to four wisdom teeth. Some people have enough room in their mouths to accommodate wisdom teeth without affecting the alignment of their other teeth or their bite. But for many of us, wisdom teeth extraction is often the best and healthiest option.

When do wisdom teeth become a problem? Most generally, when there is simply no room for them to erupt properly. As a result, the wisdom teeth become “impacted.” An impacted tooth can cause you trouble in a number of different ways.

  • Completely Impacted Tooth

Some wisdom teeth never erupt at all, staying within the jawbone. If there are no problems with these teeth, your dentist might recommend leaving them in place. If your other teeth become crowded or otherwise affected, if cysts develop, or if other complications arise, these teeth should be extracted. Even if you are symptom free, regular exams and X-rays at our Middleton, WI office are important for monitoring the condition of impacted wisdom teeth to make sure they remain problem-free.

  • Partially Erupted Tooth

A wisdom tooth can also begin to erupt, but never break completely through the gum tissue. The tooth and gum area can’t be cleaned properly, trapping food particles and bacteria. The gums can become easily irritated and even infected, and these teeth are much more prone to decay. When infection and rapid decay are present, extraction is often considered the best treatment option.

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk might be the first to mention your wisdom teeth at your regular checkup, or you might be surprised to see a new tooth appearing while you are doing your nightly brushing and flossing. Impacted wisdom teeth can be symptom-free, or may present with pain, redness, swelling, or bad breath. Whenever the first signs of wisdom teeth appear, it’s time to discuss your options.

Your dentist or oral surgeon is your best resource for helping you decide on the wisest course of action for your wisdom teeth, whether it’s extraction or regular monitoring. After all, transitioning to adulthood is even more rewarding with a beautiful healthy smile.

Top Five Ways to Improve Heart Health

March 20th, 2024

While there is no definite evidence that if your prevent gum diseases, like periodontitis, that you may be able to prevent a heart condition or heart disease. The only thing experts, like Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk, know for sure is that if you take care of your gums it can lessen atherosclerosis, (build-up of artery clogging plaque) that may result in a heart attack or stroke.

Could periodontal disease cause heart attacks?

Regardless of your oral health, if you're at a high risk for heart disease, you need to take action.

  • Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight.
  • Consume healthy foods and beverages.
  • Exercise several days the week. Walking is a powerful and lightweight exercise and will clear your head while helping your body get or stay healthy.
  • Control any medical conditions you may have such as high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
  • Reduce your stress. Have lunch with a friend, go for a walk in the park, take a bubble bath, mediate, or do whatever you find relaxing.
  • Get a social life. Laughing reduces stress and “feel good” hormones. Everyone needs to feel like they are a part of something: join a book club or any activity where you can interact with other people at least once or twice a week
  • Be sure to get enough sleep. The recommended amount is eight to nine hours a night. It has been proven that a lack of sleep increases your risk for angina, strokes, and heart attacks.
  • Practice good oral hygiene to keep bacteria in check and your mouth healthy.

Contact our Middleton, WI office if you have questions about your heart and oral health. If you take practice good oral hygiene, both your mouth and your heart will thank you.

A Spot of Trouble?

March 13th, 2024

Your smile is in the spotlight every day, helping you greet the world with confidence! But when you’re self-conscious about discolored spots on your teeth, it’s time to get some professional advice to deal with these troublesome tints.

Discolored patches, both dark and light, can develop for a number of different reasons. Some markings are cosmetic only, and some spots require treatment. Some can be removed with a professional cleaning, and some might require more serious restoration. Let’s have a look at some of the common causes of enamel discoloration.

  • Cavities

Decayed enamel can appear as a brown spot on the tooth. A dark edge around a filling might mean decay underneath.

Regular checkups at our Middleton, WI office will help catch small cavities before they become big ones. If you need a filling, the filling color can be matched to your tooth color for an undetectable restoration.

  • Demineralization

Bacteria in plaque produce acids, which attack our teeth. These acids erode minerals such as calcium and phosphorus from enamel, leaving a weak spot that is vulnerable to decay. This process is called “demineralization,” and often leaves a whiter spot on a tooth where minerals have leached away. Common reasons for demineralization are neglecting dental hygiene, failure to clean around braces, and a diet filled with sugary and acidic foods.

Fluoride and enamel-strengthening toothpastes, a healthy saliva flow, and a balanced diet help our teeth “remineralize,” bathing teeth in minerals that can help replace those that have been lost. But if you have lingering white spots due to demineralization, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can provide some options, including whitening, microabrasion, and veneers.

  • Fluorosis

Fluorosis is a cosmetic condition caused by exposure to too much fluoride while the permanent teeth are still forming (generally, during the years before a child’s eighth birthday). Small white spots and patches are a common result of mild fluorosis. In more serious cases, teeth can be pitted and stained with brown, gray, or black spots.

Preventing fluorosis begins in early childhood. Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about fluoride levels in local tap water if you have any concerns. Use only the recommended amount of toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice for children three and under; the size of a pea for children three to six), and show your child how to spit out toothpaste and rinse after brushing. Keep fluoride toothpastes and other fluoride products out of the reach of young children. Don’t give children fluoride supplements or fluoride rinses without discussing it with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk.

If your own teeth have been affected by fluorosis, talk to us. Again, this is a cosmetic condition affecting otherwise healthy teeth. Whitening treatments can be helpful in mild cases, microabrasion has been effective for mild to moderate cases, and, for severe cases, cosmetic restorations such as bonding and veneers are an option.

  • Tartar

Are you seeing an accumulation of dark brown spots and stains on your teeth, especially between the teeth and at the gum line? This might mean that you have tartar buildup. When you brush plaque away every day, your enamel stays smooth and clear. But when plaque builds up over time, it hardens and becomes tartar.

How hard is tartar? So hard that it can only be removed with a professional cleaning. Eliminate this source of spots and staining with twice daily brushing and daily flossing, and make sure regular professional cleanings are on your calendar.

  • Other Causes

Medications taken while teeth were developing (notably, antibiotics in the tetracycline family) can cause discoloration. Medical conditions such as celiac disease and enamel hypoplasia can affect both tooth color and enamel formation.

Cosmetic treatment and restorations can help with discoloration caused by medications, and restorations such as bonding, veneers, and crowns can restore tooth appearance and function when medical conditions cause imperfections in enamel color and structure.

If you’re unhappy with the overall whiteness of your smile, a professional whitening might be just what you’re looking for. If specific patches, streaks, and spots of a different color are dimming your bright smile, it’s time for an exam. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will be able to tell you the reason for any discolored enamel as well as present you with all your treatment options. Put the spotlight back where it belongs—on your healthy, confidant smile!

Your Toddler’s First Dental Visit

March 13th, 2024

It’s common for toddlers to be wary of strangers, but their first experience at the dentist shouldn’t be a scary one. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team have five tips for you to make your child’s first visit to hartstone dental easy as pie!

  1. Bringing your child to one of your own appointments before his or her first dental visit can calm your little one’s nerves. This gives your son or daughter the opportunity to get familiar with our office and see a cleaning isn’t very scary.
  2. Our big dental chair can be fun! Toddlers love games, and seeing the chair go up and down can make it seem like an amusement ride rather than sitting down for an exam.
  3. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team hand out cool toothbrushes and stickers to kids after their appointment. Your child will love the fun-colored toothbrush and can look forward to a post-appointment prize at the next visit.
  4. Schedule your appointment for a time that sets you up for success. Bringing your child to our Middleton, WI office an hour before he or she is due for a nap may be a tantrum just waiting to happen.
  5. Kids love books! Try reading your toddler bedtime stories about what happens at the dentist before you come in for the appointment. We recommend Dora the Explorer’s Show Me Your Smile, written by Christine Ricci.

Treatments for Tooth Discoloration

March 6th, 2024

Congratulations! You’re getting married! Wow! It’s your twentieth reunion! New job? Great news! No matter the occasion, large or small, you want to celebrate it with your whitest, brightest smile. How can Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk help? In a number of ways!

Professional Whitening

Because teeth are porous, over time substances in food, beverages, and tobacco products can stain the surface of the teeth. This is called extrinsic staining. If this is your concern, having your teeth whitened professionally is the fastest, most effective, and longest-lasting method of achieving your brightest smile.

We’ll examine your teeth to make sure that there are no pre-existing conditions such as cavities or gum disease that should be treated before whitening. We will use a gel with a higher concentration of whitening ingredients than over-the-counter products, protect your gums, and monitor the entire process. If you want to whiten at home, talk to us during your visit to our Middleton, WI office about custom mouthpieces and professional whitening gels for precise application and safe, effective results.

Intrinsic Stains

Intrinsic stains are below the surface of the tooth, and harder to remove. These stains might be the result of an injury to the tooth or exposure to a medication like tetracycline while the tooth is forming.

While some whitening systems and professional whiteners can improve intrinsic staining if it is not too severe, normally bonding or veneers are better options. We can use color matching to make sure bonding or veneers are indistinguishable from your natural teeth. And do consider a professional whitening first, so we can match your dental work to your whitest natural smile!

Treating Existing Dental Work

Again, when you are considering porcelain veneers or crowns, composite veneers, or tooth bonding, choose the color that works best for your whitest natural smile, because these materials cannot be whitened like natural teeth. If you have dental work already in place that you would like to brighten, both composite and porcelain dental work can be polished to remove surface stains. If the color is simply not a good match for your natural teeth any more, replacement of your dental work is an option we can discuss.

There are plenty of good reasons to get your teeth whitened—Weddings! Reunions! New jobs!—but the best reason of all is giving you the healthy, confidant smile you’ve always wanted. And that’s something to celebrate!

Proper Flossing Techniques

March 6th, 2024

Of all the dental hygiene techniques you can use at home to promote clean teeth and good oral health, flossing is likely to be the one that troubles most people. It can be viewed as confusing and time-consuming, but when you learn how to floss your teeth correctly, you’ll find it’s easy to do on a daily basis.

Proper flossing techniques are vital to the health of your teeth and gums. These tips will help you with the correct flossing procedures. Likewise, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team can also help you learn how to floss effectively and efficiently.

Steps to Flossing Your Teeth Properly

  1. Choosing Dental Floss. You can find dental floss in various flavors, as well as waxed or unwaxed. If the floss you use seems to get stuck between your teeth, switch to waxed to make it easier.
  2. Flossing “Helpers.” Beginner flossers who have trouble coordinating the floss and the movements of their hands can use a floss holder to help them get in and around teeth.
  3. Preparing the Floss. Cut an 18-inch piece of floss to use for flossing a few teeth. This allows you to make progress before you must stop and cut another piece of floss.
  4. How to Hold It. Wind the ends around your middle fingers. Hold the floss taut, pinching each side with your thumbs and index fingers. Leave a couple inches free in the middle.
  5. The Process of Flossing. Use your index fingers to guide the floss toward your gum line. Bring it down between the teeth with a zigzag motion. Hold the floss in a C-shape around the tooth, and move it up and down along the side.
  6. Where to Floss. Use a clean portion of the floss to clean around and in between each tooth. Don’t forget about the molars in the back of your mouth, too!

Flossing: A Vital Part of Oral Care

Periodontal disease begins at the gum line; this is where flossing comes in. Regular flossing helps you remove plaque from the gum line and between your teeth to avoid gum disease. In conjunction with daily brushing and twice-a-year visits to hartstone dental, floss each day to maintain good oral hygiene and overall health. Gum disease can have an impact on your general health, but it doesn't have to. This easy-to-prevent condition can be avoided with regular visits to our Middleton, WI office and daily flossing. Allow our team to partner with you in maintaining a bright, shiny smile and good oral health.

Teens and Gum Disease

February 29th, 2024

You have a lot going on. School. Sports. Activities. Family. Friends. Teens lead busy lives and have busy schedules, so you need to budget your time and energy. One thing you don’t want to spend any of your time and energy on? Dealing with gum disease.

Gum disease most often begins as a reaction to plaque and tartar. The bacteria in plaque produce acids which irritate gum tissue, causing inflammation, swelling, and bleeding. This is gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.

Left untreated, early gum disease can become periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious gum infection which can cause receding gums, loose teeth, and even tooth and bone loss.

We usually think about gum disease as something that only older adults worry about. But the unfortunate fact is that children and teens are also at risk for gum disease—and the teen years bring special risks. Why?

  • Braces

The teen years are the most common years for orthodontic treatment. Wearing traditional or lingual braces can make removing plaque from around brackets and wires, between the teeth, and near the gum line more challenging, and gum disease can be the result. When you’ve been working so hard to create a healthy attractive smile, you don’t want to delay your orthodontic progress to treat gum disease.

  • Less-than-Nutritious Snacking

When you have after school commitments like sports practices, play rehearsals, or work, you probably carry a snack to give you the energy you need until dinner. Popular snacks like energy drinks, chips, or candy bars are common go-to choices, but they contain acids, simple carbs, and sugars which are bad for both gums and tooth enamel.

  • Hormones

Increased hormone levels during puberty can make the gums more sensitive and more easily irritated.

  • Your Busy Life

Maybe you’re not getting enough sleep. Or eating as well as you could. Or you’re feeling anxious. Lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and stress can affect your body’s immune system and your ability to fight off infection. And if you’re also not brushing and flossing regularly, your gum health can really suffer.

How do you know if you have gum disease? Good question! Sometimes the early stages of gum disease aren’t obvious. Perhaps you’ve noticed changes in your gums, such as:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Soreness
  • Bleeding
  • Bad breath even after brushing

Any of these changes can be symptoms of gum disease and are a good reason to give our Middleton, WI office a call, since time is important when treating gum disease.

Caught early, gingivitis is usually very treatable—in fact, you can often reverse early gingivitis by paying more attention to your daily dental hygiene. If gingivitis is more advanced, or if periodontitis develops, you need professional dental care to prevent serious damage to your gums, teeth, and bone.

Preventing gum disease from ever developing is always best, though, so let’s look at what you can do to keep gum disease from becoming a problem.

  • Keep Up with Healthy Dental Habits

Even though you’re leading a busy life, take time for your dental care. Brushing twice a day for at least two minutes per session and flossing once a day take just a bit of your time and are the best way to keep your gums healthy. If you wear braces or have a tendency toward cavities and gum disease, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk might recommend brushing or flossing more often.

  • Use the Right Tools

Using the right tools makes a big difference. You should always choose a toothbrush with soft bristles to protect your delicate gum tissue—especially if it’s extra sensitive. Too-harsh brushing can damage even your super-hard tooth enamel, so you can imagine what it can do to your gums! Change out your brush every three to four months when it starts to get frayed and worn.

If you wear braces, ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk to recommend the best kind of floss to clean between your teeth and around your brackets and wires. The right tools will make flossing a lot easier, and will help you keep your gums healthy and your orthodontic treatment on track.

  • No Matter How Busy You Are, Treat Yourself Well

Watch your diet. Drinking water to hydrate is a healthy (and inexpensive) alternative to sugary and acidic drinks. When you know you have after-school commitments, pack yourself a healthy snack. After snacking, it’s a good idea to rinse with water when you can’t brush to remove any food particles sticking around your teeth and gums.

And even though your schedule is demanding, caring for your mind and body should be a priority. If you have difficulties with sleep or stress, or questions about a nutritious diet, talk to your doctor for some valuable tips to make your daily life healthier and more enjoyable.

With so much going on in your active life, gum problems are problems you really don’t need. Make room in your schedule now for careful daily brushing and flossing, a healthy lifestyle, and regular visits to hartstone dental, and you’ll be living that active life with a beautiful, healthy smile!

Three Surprising Causes of Bad Breath

February 29th, 2024

Rumor has it that the Queen of England doesn’t allow garlic in the palace. And, even if you have no royal duties in the near future, it might be a good idea to avoid foods like garlic and onion before a big presentation or a first date. But if your diet is filled with mint, fresh apples, and parsley and you still worry about your breath, here are some common causes for bad breath that you might not have considered.

  • A Slip of the Tongue

We brush and floss to remove food particles and bacteria. After all, bacteria that linger in the mouth produce acids that damage tooth enamel and cause bad breath. But there is one important brushing target you might be overlooking—your tongue.

Remove food particles and bacteria on the surface of the tongue with a gentle brushing after you have finished cleaning your teeth. With a dab of toothpaste, brush the top of your tongue gently from back to front. There are also tools called tongue scrapers available that are specifically designed to remove food particles and bacteria from the tongue’s surface. However you choose to clean your tongue, remember to move from the back to the front, and always clean gently.

  • A Dry Spell

We spend the vast majority of our day not brushing our teeth. What helps keep breath fresh even during the hours between brushings? Saliva! As saliva bathes the teeth throughout the day, it not only washes away food particles and bacteria, but also neutralizes the enamel-damaging acids that are produced by bacteria. Yet another benefit? Saliva is not a friendly environment for the oral bacteria that produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). It is these compounds that cause most of the unpleasant odors we know as bad breath.

If you are drinking the recommended amount of water each day, you are helping your body produce saliva and fight bad breath. Sometimes, a medical condition called dry mouth, or xerostomia, interferes with saliva production. Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about ways to deal with dry mouth. Solutions as simple as drinking more fluids or chewing sugarless gum can help, or we can suggest over-the-counter products or prescription medications if needed.

  • A Bad Night’s Sleep

We’re all familiar with the concept of morning breath. As we sleep, our saliva production naturally decreases. It’s like a nightly version of dry mouth. Without normal levels of saliva, bacterial growth takes off, VSC’s are produced in greater quantities, and we wake up wondering what on earth happened to that fresh feeling we had after brushing the night before.

Unfortunately for snorers, nighttime brings more problems. Snoring leads to mouth breathing, and mouth breathing creates an even drier environment where oral bacteria increase more quickly. If you find you are consistently waking up with an especially unpleasant case of morning breath, you could be a chronic snorer without even realizing it. If you discover or suspect you have a snoring problem, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk or your GP. Snoring can have serious health consequences, so let’s discuss possible solutions.

One important note to end on: if you have eliminated all the obvious causes of halitosis but still have persistent bad breath, give our Middleton, WI office a call. Chronic bad breath can be a symptom of serious gum disease, oral infections, illnesses such as diabetes or kidney disease, and other medical conditions that should be treated as soon as possible. If the topic is bad breath, let’s make sure garlic is the only thing you have to worry about.

Sippy Cups

February 21st, 2024

What a milestone! The transition from bottle to sippy cup is one of baby’s first steps toward toddler independence. And like all first journeys, some helpful guideposts come in handy. That’s why Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team have several recommendations to help you navigate this transition, making sure your baby’s dental health is protected along the way.

Choosing a Sippy Cup

Sippy cups are often a parent’s first choice for this big step in baby’s development. While sippy cups offer a variety of child-safe materials, lively colors, and comfortable handle options, the feature of interest from a dental perspective is lid design.

Sippy cups curb spills because their lids don’t allow liquids to flow out freely, ensuring that drinks make it into baby’s mouth instead of onto furniture or floor. Cup lids might incorporate:

  • Built-in straws
  • A drinking edge around the rim of the cup which seals when your child isn’t drinking
  • Soft spouts
  • Hard spouts
  • Spouts with valves to prevent liquids from leaking out. (Spouts with valves work like a nipple, which means baby is sucking instead of sipping.)

Which design is best? For short periods, any of these designs can work for you. Over long periods, spouted cups could have the same effects as prolonged thumb-sucking and pacifier use, potentially affecting a child’s tongue positioning, tooth alignment, bite, and speech development. Your dentist will be able to suggest which cups are best for your child’s dental health both short and long term.

What to Put in a Sippy Cup

Once your baby has begun drinking from a cup, it should only hold tooth-friendly drinks.

  • Pediatricians generally recommend breast milk and/or formula until your child is 12 months old. You can switch to regular milk (or a healthy milk alternative) once your child is a year old with your doctor’s okay.
  • Water can be introduced when your pediatrician thinks your child is ready, usually around the age of six months.
  • Because even natural fruit juices have lots of sugar, dentists and pediatricians suggest giving your baby small amounts only—or feed your child fruit instead!
  • Skip the sugared drinks, sports drinks, caffeinated drinks, and sodas. They aren’t healthy for little bodies or little teeth.

Help Prevent Tooth Decay

Just like adults, babies can suffer tooth decay, too—and for the same reasons. The bacteria in plaque use the sugars found in our diets to create acids, and acids erode tooth enamel.

When a toddler totes a sippy cup around all day, even filled with healthy drinks, those baby teeth are constantly exposed to the natural sugars found in breast milk, formula, and, for older children, milk. Drinks with more or added sugars, such as juices or sweetened drinks, cause more damage to tooth enamel. Use a sippy cup wisely:

  • Offer the cup with meals and snacks, when increased saliva production can help wash away sugars and neutralize the acids which cause cavities.
  • Offer water between meals.
  • Don’t let your baby take a sippy cup to bed. Some spill-proof cups are designed to be sucked like bottles, and, like bottles, sugary liquids can pool in babies’ mouths as they sleep.
  • Get into a tooth-cleaning routine as soon as your child’s teeth start to arrive.

And, while we’re talking about healthy teeth, please don’t let your child toddle around with a sippy cup. A fall while drinking can injure a baby’s mouth and teeth.

Partner with Your Child’s Dentist

The journey from baby to toddler can seem overwhelming sometimes for both you and your child, but you have expert help available! It's a good idea to make a first dental appointment at our Middleton, WI office sometime between the appearance of the first baby tooth and your child’s first birthday. This initial visit is an opportunity for Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk to:

  • Check your child’s overall dental health and development.
  • Look for signs of early decay.
  • Talk about proactive dental care, including how and when to clean your child’s teeth.
  • Answer questions about how you can support your child’s dental health, including the advantages and disadvantages of sippy cups.

Used properly, sippy cups can be a helpful transition on your child’s journey from bottle to cup, and from baby-who-relies-on-you-for-everything to take-charge-toddler. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team are an ideal guide as you and your child chart this path together.

Is There an Act Three for Our Teeth?

February 21st, 2024

Act One: Those 20 adorable baby teeth which begin arriving when you’re about six months old and are probably gone by the time you’re twelve.

Act Two: The 32 (if you have all your wisdom teeth!) adult teeth which start showing up around the age of six, and need to last the rest of your lifetime. Unless there’s an . . .

Act Three: Where science has discovered a way to repair damaged teeth or create replacements for lost teeth that would look and function just like our original teeth.

Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it?

In biological terms, of course, we’re not there yet. But teams of scientists around the world have been working toward just this goal—the ability to repair a tooth with its own biological material or even grow a new tooth when an adult tooth is seriously damaged or lost.

Because the pulp—the living tissue inside each tooth—contains dental stem cells, some researchers are studying whether these cells can be used to regenerate the living pulp inside a damaged tooth. Even more exciting, there’s research being done into the possibility of using these stem cells to rebuild an entire tooth—pulp, dentin, and hard enamel exterior. Because the supply of usable dental stem calls is quite small, and process of guiding these cells to create all the varied parts of the tooth is quite complex, this research is in its early stages.

In other studies, scientists have focused on tooth regeneration by studying the teeth of other species. Mice, for example, have front teeth with open roots. This allows these teeth to keep growing up as they wear down, because stem cells inside mouse gums are always working to create new tissue. Even though our teeth are not exactly comparable (no open roots in human teeth!), finding out just how this tissue regeneration works in mice and other animals might help find an answer for human tooth regeneration.

Right now, these scientific goals are just that—goals for a future day. But in the meantime, your quality of life doesn’t need to suffer when you lose an adult tooth. You can enjoy a third act right now with dental implants.

Cosmetic concerns aren’t the only reasons why you want your complete smile restored in the event of a lost tooth. A missing tooth can lead to many unpleasant consequences:

  • Speaking and eating can become more difficult.
  • Lack of stimulation from biting and chewing can cause the bone beneath the lost tooth to shrink.
  • Other teeth can shift to fill the gap left behind, which can affect tooth, bite, and jaw alignment.
  • Loss of teeth can lead to loss of confidence.

Unlike dentures or bridges, dental implants are designed to function just like your natural teeth.

The post, or base, of each implant fuses with the bone in your jaw, acting as a “root” for the implant. Once the post has fused with the bone around it, a crown designed to match your other teeth in shape and color is secured to the post. You can eat, speak, brush, floss, keep your bone healthy, and smile confidently just as you did before.

Will biological replacements be ready for your third act in the near future? Probably not. But that’s not to say this will never be possible! In the meantime, take care of your teeth with daily brushing and flossing, eat a dental-healthy diet, and visiting our Middleton, WI office as recommended.

You do your best to keep your teeth intact and in place—but if you lose one through trauma or decay, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about an implant. Because in any stage of life, the most important result is the happy ending a healthy and confident smile brings you!

What’s in Your Backpack?

February 15th, 2024

Hiking is a great way to appreciate the beauty of nature, to get away from the stresses of daily life, and, of course, to challenge yourself physically. While you’re packing away your sunscreen and your first aid kit, do your body another favor—take a minute to include some lightweight, dental-friendly items.

  • Snacks

When you’re exerting yourself, snacks that provide quick energy on the go are a must. Granola, trail mix, energy bars, candy, dried fruit—these are the foods we think of as trail food, and we generally get that quick energy boost from the sugars and starches they contain. As it happens, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team strongly recommend you pick snack options other than sugary and starchy foods. Why? Because many sugars and starches provide oral bacteria the food they need to produce acids. These acids weaken enamel and damage our teeth. And these common trail foods often have the added “bonus” of sticking to the teeth, leaving acids even more opportunity to attack. Don’t give up the energy boost you need for a safe hike, but do yourself and your teeth a favor and look for the healthiest granola, energy bars, and gorp out there.

Other suggestions for trail treats that are also a treat for teeth? If you need a chocolate pick-me-up, try dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has more caffeine that milk chocolate and less sugar. (It has other health benefits as well that you might want to look up after your hike.) If you like nuts and seeds, take softer nuts, or sliced nuts—a good source of energy and not likely to provide as much stress on your teeth when you’re in the field. (Shell them beforehand—don’t ever use your teeth as a nutcracker!) Similarly, if you take seeds, leave the shells at home. If you like crackers, try whole grains. Looking for protein? How about a tuna pouch instead of chewy beef jerky?

  • Hydrate

Water is always the go-to beverage. Pre-hydrate even before setting out, and have plenty on hand for your trek. Many hiking sources suggest two cups of fluids per hour of activity. (And in hot or humid weather or at high altitudes, you could need even more.) There are actually hiking water calculators online, which can give you a good estimate on how much you’ll need for your trip, taking into account your age, weight, level of activity, and other factors. Because water can get heavy, plan a lengthy hike around the availability of fountains or other clean water sources if necessary.

What if you feel the need for more than water? If you are getting a good workout, you’re probably losing electrolytes. Generally, sports drinks aren’t on the dental menu. They tend to be loaded with sugar and carbs—good for energy, bad for teeth. Sports drinks can be as acidic and hard on your enamel as sodas. But if you need those electrolytes on a long hike, don’t feel guilty. There are many options—choose the healthiest one for you and your workout level.

  • Be prepared!

While you are probably already packing a mini-first aid kit for long hikes, think about a lightweight dental emergency kit as well. These are readily available online and in outdoors stores, and usually contain supplies like cotton balls, dental floss, oral pain relievers, even temporary fillings, in a lightweight bag.

And once your hike is done? Rehydrate, and don’t forget to treat your teeth to a good brushing and flossing when you get home.

Got all that? Great! Now, go take a hike!

Socket Preservation

February 15th, 2024

Dental implants are a marvel! They look just like your natural teeth, and, even better, they function just like your natural teeth. So, when you’re planning on a dental implant after an extraction, you want to make sure that your implant has the best chance of success—and we do, too. That’s why we might recommend a socket preservation procedure, where socket grafting takes place immediately after your extraction.

What is a socket graft, and what does it “preserve”? Let’s take a closer look.

Socket Preservation—A Logical Choice After Extraction

You’ve decided on a dental implant for some excellent reasons.

  • A missing tooth can change the appearance of your smile.
  • Your remaining teeth might shift to fill the empty space, causing alignment and bite problems.
  • A lost tooth affects the amount, shape, and health of the bone surrounding your teeth.

No one wants to lose a tooth, but sometimes, due to injury or decay, an extraction is the only choice for your oral health. After your tooth is extracted, if the socket bone holding the tooth is perfectly healthy and the extraction is a simple one, we might be able to place an implant post in the socket right away.

But often, bone needs time to heal before placing an implant post, and you risk losing the bone size and density you need to make a future implant possible. How can you lose bone? That’s an unfortunate consequence of losing teeth. Teeth are important not just because they let us eat comfortably—they also help maintain bone health.

Without the stimulation of biting and chewing, the bone beneath the teeth begins a process called resorption. As older cells are absorbed back into the body, new bone cells aren’t produced as quickly to replace them. The alveolar bone, the thick ridge of the jaw which holds our sockets, shrinks in size. As the bone gets smaller, gum tissue shrinks around it, causing a sunken spot where your tooth used to be.

For a dental implant to anchor successfully in the jawbone, you need healthy bone that is high enough, wide enough, and dense enough to hold the implant post securely as it fuses with the bone.

A socket graft at the time of extraction provides two important benefits: grafting material fills the empty socket immediately, preserving the bone and gum area around it, and the graft material acts as scaffolding for new bone growth, creating a firm, dense foundation for your implant.

Grafting materials are gradually and safely absorbed as your new, healthy bone tissue replaces them. The result, after several months of healing, is an alveolar ridge with normal height and width and with the density needed to anchor an implant successfully.

The Grafting Procedure

Grafting material comes in different forms, including allografts (made from donor bone), synthetic grafts (made from synthetic materials which function like bone tissue), and autografts (bone taken from your own body). Growth factors may also be included in the grafting material to encourage new cell growth. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will recommend the type of graft which will work best for you.

A socket preservation procedure will frequently involve the following steps:

  • Local anesthesia to numb the area before your extraction. You might choose sedation options as well, which we’re happy to discuss with you in advance.
  • Careful cleaning of the site after the tooth is extracted.
  • Filling the empty socket with bone grafting material.
  • Placing a barrier or membrane over the graft to protect it as it heals.
  • Suturing the surrounding gum tissue.

Aftercare Treatment

Aftercare treatment for a socket graft is a lot like the treatment for a tooth extraction. You’ll need to be careful around the graft area for several days as it heals, and we’ll give you specific instructions for your recovery. Normally, these may include:

  • Don’t disturb or touch the area. Even pulling on lips or mouth to look at the site can put stress on your sutures.
  • Immediately after the procedure, we can give you suggestions for reducing swelling and managing any pain you might be feeling.
  • We’ll let you know when and how to rinse your mouth clean and when you can return to brushing. And no spitting!
  • Eat carefully. We might recommend a liquid diet for a few days before transitioning to bland and cool soft foods. We’ll let you know the best diet for the period after your surgery. Don’t use a straw for your liquid diet, because suction can interfere with the wound.
  • Treat yourself carefully for a few days by avoiding strenuous activities, including workouts.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking interferes with the healing process, and the suction involved does your graft no favors either.
  • Visit our Middleton, WI office for follow up appointments as recommended. We’ll monitor your healing, and give you a timeline for your future implant.

Preserving your socket now instead of repairing it later has many advantages. Immediate placement of a graft protects bone size and density, eliminates the need for a potential bone grafting procedure in the future, and makes it possible for you to enjoy the natural look and feel of a dental implant as soon as possible. If you have an extraction scheduled, let’s discuss why socket preservation might be your best path to an efficient, timely, and successful dental implant.

Building Blocks for a Healthy Grown-Up Smile

February 7th, 2024

Even before a baby is born, those tiny baby teeth are already forming. Expectant mothers can help ensure that their children’s baby teeth will be strong and healthy by getting the recommended amounts of proteins, vitamins, and minerals in their prenatal diets.

But a mother can’t “eat for two” to make sure her child’s adult teeth are healthy—children’s permanent teeth begin real growth and development only after birth. What can we do to encourage strong permanent teeth as our children grow and develop? Here are four important building blocks parents can use to lay a healthy foundation for their children’s grown-up smiles.

Serve a Tooth-Healthy Diet

The same vitamins and minerals that help create baby teeth are essential for creating healthy adult teeth. Tooth enamel, the hardest substance in the body, is almost completely made up of calcium phosphate minerals.  A diet which provides the recommended amounts of calcium and phosphorus helps your child’s body grow strong enamel. And don’t forget vitamin D, which our bodies need to absorb calcium and phosphorus.

A tooth-healthy diet should include several servings of foods which provide calcium, such as dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), dark leafy vegetables, and fortified juices, cereals and tofu. Phosphorus can be found in proteins like meat, fish, and poultry, as well as beans, nuts, dairy, and whole grains. Egg yolks and fatty fish are natural sources of vitamin D, and it’s easily available in fortified foods such as cow’s milk, soy milk, cereals, and orange juice.

Use the Right Amount of Fluoride

Fluoride is called “Nature’s cavity fighter” for a reason. Fluoride reduces the risk of cavities and helps strengthen tooth enamel. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can offer invaluable advice on when to start and how to use fluoride toothpaste to protect your child’s baby teeth and developing adult teeth.

Can there be too much of this good thing? While fluoride is a safe and effective way to protect teeth in normal, recommended amounts, too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis. This condition can cause cosmetic changes in the enamel of permanent teeth, from almost invisible lighter spots to darker spots and streaking.

How to make sure your child gets the right amount of fluoride?

For children under the age of three, use a dab of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. Ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk if fluoride toothpaste is recommended.

Young children can’t always understand the idea of spitting and rinsing after brushing, so children between the ages of three and six should use only a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste, and need you there to make sure they spit and rinse afterward.

Ask us about local water fluoride levels if you have any concerns about using tap water for drinking or for mixing formula, keep fluoride toothpastes and other products out of the reach of children, monitor your children while they brush, and always check with us before giving your child a fluoride rinse or supplement.

Help Your Child Retire Harmful Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Habits

Your child might self-comfort with the help of a pacifier or thumb sucking, which can be a valuable soothing habit. But it’s important to talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk to see just how long this soothing habit should last. Around the age of four, aggressive thumb or pacifier sucking can lead to problems for permanent teeth.

Vigorous sucking can cause protruding upper front teeth. Aggressive sucking can lead to changes in the shape of your child’s palate and jaw. Open bite malocclusions, where the upper and lower teeth are unable to meet, and overbites, where the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth more than they should, can also be the result of lengthy and forceful thumb sucking.

Take Care of Baby Teeth

Baby teeth are important! They bite and chew food, and they work with the tongue to help your child learn to pronounce words properly. And there’s one more important reason to make sure primary teeth stay healthy: they serve as the place holders which guide permanent teeth into their proper spots.

When a baby tooth is lost too early, due to decay or injury, the teeth on either side can drift into the empty space, preventing a permanent tooth from erupting where it needs to. Any misalignment or crowding which results may require orthodontic treatment in the future.

Call our Middleton, WI office if your child unexpectedly loses a baby tooth. There may be no cause for concern, or, if there’s a potential problem, an appliance called a “space maintainer,” which keeps the baby teeth from shifting out of place, can be fabricated especially for your child.

Your child’s adult teeth are being formed now. Work with us to make sure the building blocks of present and future dental health are in place. You’re giving your child the foundation for a lifetime of beautiful, grown-up smiles!

Shark Teeth

February 7th, 2024

It seems like sharks are everywhere these days—on land, sea, and air(waves). A halftime show meme gone viral. A week of summer TV devoted to our favorite apex predators. And who doesn’t have “Baby Shark” playing in their heads all day once they’ve heard it? But are we jumping the shark to discuss this topic in a dental blog?

Not at all! Because today, we’re going to talk about shark teeth—just not the ones you might be expecting.

One of the expected sights when a shark opens its mouth are those rows and rows of shiny shark teeth. Sharks can grow from two to 15 rows of teeth at any one time (and some sharks have even more). This means sharp new teeth are always ready to replace any shark tooth which is lost, broken, or worn out.

An unexpected sight? When children point to their new adult tooth or teeth coming in—right behind their still-firmly rooted baby teeth! This double set of teeth is called “shark teeth,” and, while it certainly might come as a surprise, it’s not all that uncommon. But why do children develop shark teeth at all?

After all, baby, or primary, teeth have small roots, and are designed to come out easily when the adult teeth start arriving. When a permanent tooth starts to erupt, it pushes against the root of the baby tooth above it. This pressure gradually dissolves the root of the primary tooth, and with nothing to anchor it, it’s now loose, wiggly, and ready to fall out. That’s why baby teeth often look like they have no roots at all when they eventually wiggle free.

Sometimes, though, the roots of a primary tooth don’t break down, which means baby teeth stay right where they are. It also means that the permanent teeth have to erupt somewhere else—usually behind those stubborn little baby teeth.

Shark teeth can first appear around the ages of five to seven when the permanent front teeth start arriving, or several years later, when the adult molars begin to come in. Any extra teeth in one small jaw naturally cause concerns about crowding and misalignment, especially when those extra teeth are molars. Fortunately, treatment is generally uncomplicated.

If the baby tooth is loose, time (and wiggling) might take care of the problem. But if the primary tooth or teeth just won’t budge, even after several weeks, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk—especially if your child is experiencing pain or discomfort.

An extraction is often suggested when a baby tooth has overstayed its welcome. Because of its smaller root, extracting a primary tooth is usually a straightforward procedure. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can let you know all the details, and can discuss sedation options if they’re appropriate for your child.

Whether baby teeth are left to fall out on their own, or given some assistance, most often your child’s permanent tooth will start moving to its proper position as soon as the space is available.

Unlike sharks, we don’t have an endless supply of replacement teeth, so it’s understandable to worry when you see anything unexpected. If you want to know more about shark teeth, or if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to call our Middleton, WI office for expert advice.

Diet Soda vs. Regular Soda: Which is better for teeth?

January 31st, 2024

When most patients ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk this question, they're thinking strictly about sugar content — cut out the bacteria-feeding sugar that's present in regular soda by opting for a diet soda and it will be better for your teeth. That seems logical, right? Well, there's a bit more to it than that. Let's take a closer look at how any kind of soda can affect your dental health.

Diet Soda – Why it can also lead to tooth decay

The main culprit in these drinks that leads to decay is the acid content. Diet sodas and other sugar-free drinks are usually highly acidic, which weakens the enamel on your teeth and makes them more susceptible to cavities and dental erosion. The level of phosphoric acid, citric acid, and/or tartaric acid is usually high in sugar-free drinks so it's best to avoid them.

Some patients also enjoy drinking orange juice or other citrus juices. These drinks are high in citric acid and have the same effect on the enamel of your teeth.

So what about regular soda?

We know the acidity of diet sodas and sugar-free drinks contributes to tooth decay, so what about regular soda? Like we alluded to earlier, regular soda is high in sugar — a 12 ounce can contains roughly ten teaspoons of sugar — and sugar feeds the decay-causing bacteria in the mouth. This also includes sports drinks and energy drinks, which are highly acidic and loaded with sugar too. So these drinks are a double-whammy of sugar and acidity your teeth and body simply don't need.

The problems caused by both diet and regular soda is exacerbated when you sip on them throughout the day. If you drink it all in one sitting, you won't be washing sugar and/or acids over your teeth all day long and your saliva will have a chance to neutralize the pH in your mouth.

The best beverages to drink and how to drink them

Drinking beverages that are lower in acid is a good step to take to keep your enamel strong. According to a study conducted by Matthew M. Rodgers and J. Anthony von Fraunhofer at the University of Michigan, your best bets are plain water, black tea or coffee, and if you opt for a soda, root beer. These drinks dissolved the least amount of enamel when measured 14 days after consumption of the beverage.

If you still choose to drink soda, diet soda, sugar-free drinks, or juices here are some other tips to lessen tooth decay:

  • Drink your soda or acidic beverages through a straw to minimize contact with teeth
  • Rinse with water immediately after consumption of the beverage
  • Avoid brushing your teeth between 30 minutes to an hour after drinking the beverage as this has been shown to spread the acids before your saliva can bring your mouth back to a neutral pH
  • Avoid drinks that have acids listed on the ingredients label

Still have questions about soda, sugar, and acid? Give our Middleton, WI office a call and we’d be happy to help!

Bright Ideas for Your Smile

January 31st, 2024

Keeping your smile its brightest can be a challenge! The foods you eat, healthy habits, unhealthy habits, and time itself can affect the color of your enamel. Luckily, there are some everyday actions you can take to minimize staining and discoloration.

  • Limit “Food Coloring”

Some of our favorite foods and beverages cause some of the most noticeable staining. Even though enamel is the strongest substance in our bodies, it’s still porous. This means that enamel can absorb elements from our foods, including tannins and natural food colors, which darken teeth over time.

That’s why a daily cup of coffee or tea, or a glass of red wine with dinner, or frequent helpings of dark berries, can lead to a less than brilliant smile in a matter of months. What’s more, acidic foods like citrus fruits, pickled foods, and sodas erode the enamel surface, which makes it easier for food stains to penetrate.

When you eat those smile-dimming foods, it’s a good idea to rinse with water right away. (When tasty treats are acidic, it’s best to wait to brush for about half an hour to avoid enamel damage.)  And here’s a simple work-around—use a straw when you enjoy discoloring drinks.

You can also reduce staining by adding food allies to your diet. Besides bringing you the nutritional benefits of a healthy, well-balanced diet, crunchy foods such as apples, carrots, and celery can have a mild scrubbing effect on the tooth surface, and dairy foods strengthen enamel and might help prevent staining when added to coffee or tea.

If you’re mindful of your eating habits, you’ll help your smile stay its brightest. And speaking of habits . . .

  • Keep Up with Healthy Habits

Plaque is a sticky biofilm which contains oral bacteria, food particles, saliva, and fluids. This film starts forming within hours after brushing, and a buildup of plaque leaves teeth looking yellowish. If plaque is left undisturbed, it hardens into tartar within days. And the yellow and brown colors of tartar aren’t a flattering look for any of us.

Regular brushing and flossing is the best way to keep your teeth plaque-free. For a brighter smile, a whitening toothpaste can help remove superficial surface stains. But what a whitening toothpaste can’t do is to remove deep staining or tartar.

A professional cleaning every time you have a checkup at our Middleton, WI office is the best way to keep your teeth their cleanest, especially because tartar must be removed by a dental professional. And please feel free to ask for brushing and flossing tips to help maintain your sparkling smile.

  • Give Up Unhealthy Habits

Cigarettes, cigars, and other forms of tobacco are terrible for your health and terrible for your smile. While cosmetic concerns are the least of our worries when it comes to tobacco, it’s well known that smoking and chewing tobacco cause unattractive yellow and brown staining.

Quitting tobacco in any form benefits not just your appearance, but your oral health—and your overall health. When you’re ready, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about some of the methods you can use to give up the habit permanently.

  • Beat the Clock

Over the years, erosion and wear cause the enamel layer on the outside of the tooth to thin or crack. This allows the dentin underneath to show through. Because dentin is darker than enamel to begin with, and gets darker over time, teeth can take on a yellow or grey hue as we age.

Keep your smile looking its best through the years with regular checkups and cleanings. Avoid excessive erosion and abrasion by being mindful of the acidic foods in your diet, using a soft-bristled brush for cleaning your teeth, and getting treatment for harmful conditions like bruxism (tooth grinding). If you notice any changes in your smile, it’s a good idea to talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk.

While preventing staining naturally with diet and healthy habits is great, sometimes nature needs a nudge. If you have an important event coming up, or if you would simply like to feel more confident about your smile, talk to us about professional whitening. A professional treatment uses a stronger whitening formula, and often works more quickly, is more effective at removing yellowing and stains, and lasts longer than home treatments.

Finally, while you can do a lot to keep your teeth their brightest by preventing and treating external staining, other types of discoloration can also affect your teeth. For staining caused by medication, root canal work, or trauma, ask us about all the options available to you.

Yes, keeping your teeth their brightest can be a challenge, but doing your part—and working with your dental team at hartstone dental—will make sure you greet the world with a sparkling, confident smile.

DIY Teeth Whitening

January 25th, 2024

We all want our best and brightest smiles, and today there are many options we can explore at home to make those beautiful smiles a reality. Whether it’s healthy habits, a healthy diet, whitening toothpaste, or do-it-yourself home products, we have golden opportunities to achieve whiter teeth.

  • Healthy Habits

Proper brushing is the first step in keeping your teeth stain-free. You should devote at least two minutes twice a day to brushing, being careful to cover the areas between and at the base of teeth, where plaque you miss can form visible tartar. Ask us about the most effective brushing techniques. And please, don’t smoke. Smoking is one of the worst offenders when it comes to discoloring teeth. If you are a smoker, quitting at any point in your life will make a big difference in the whiteness of your smile—and your lasting health!

  • Healthy Eating

We all know red wine, coffee, and tea cause some of our worst enamel stains. Acidic drinks such as sodas and citrus beverages can cause even more problems by eroding tooth enamel, exposing the yellowish dentin underneath. Moderation and rinsing with water can help prevent damage. But we have some dietary allies as well! Crunchy foods like apples, carrots, and celery provide a mild scrubbing effect. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt strengthen enamel. Fruits such as strawberries and pineapples, studies suggest, contain enzymes that are natural stain removers. While no one food takes the place of brushing or cleaning, a healthy diet and a healthy body enhance any smile.

  • Brushing with a Whitening Toothpaste

Toothpastes are available which can remove some surface stains, and which can keep teeth their whitest after a professional whitening. They won’t penetrate the enamel surface or change the natural color of your teeth. If these toothpastes are going to work on discolored tooth surfaces, you will usually see results within a few weeks.

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) Whitening Kits

These products provide a peroxide-based gel that can be applied in a tray or with strips. If you choose a tray application, make sure trays fit properly so sensitive mouth and gum tissue is not irritated. If you decide on strips, always make sure all of the tooth surface is covered to avoid uneven whitening. These kits have more powerful whiteners than toothpastes, and so you might see better results, but tooth and gum sensitivity can be a problem.

While all these whitening methods can be helpful, there are some circumstances when a professional whitening is best. Professional gel whiteners are more powerful, and can help eliminate darker stains that OTC products can’t remove. We can make sure sensitive gum and mouth tissue is protected from bleaching agents. And, if you are on a deadline, we can provide a much faster result. Some conditions, such as deep stains caused by trauma or medication, or darker-colored caps, veneers, and crowns, require more than whitening, and we are happy to present options for those situations.

If you have any questions or concerns about whitening your teeth, please give our Middleton, WI office a call. Whether it’s advice on how to brush or how to quit smoking, discussing the effects of foods and drinks on our teeth, suggesting OTC whitening products, or providing a professional whitening, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team are happy to help you achieve your best and brightest smile!

When should a filling be replaced?

January 25th, 2024

There is no substitution for a natural healthy tooth. Dental fillings are intended to replace tooth structure and restore a tooth damaged by decay (a cavity) back to its normal function and shape. Silver (amalgam) and tooth-colored (composite) fillings last a long time, though they can develop decay when the integrity is compromised by open margins, fracture, or recurrent decay. In this blog, we discuss the signs and symptoms that indicate your filling may need to be replaced in order to prevent further complications.

Amalgam fillings are made of an alloy (mixed metals) that expands and contracts. They have no bonding properties, and so to place an amalgam filling, the hole in the tooth may need to be larger. Because of these two factors, fractures frequently occur. There are three types of cracks that are commonly associated. Craze lines are superficial with no treatment needed. Fractures extend along other parts of the tooth and may require a filling replacement or crown. Cracks extend toward the root and can require a root canal and crown or, if too severe, extraction.

A filing needs to be sealed to the tooth. If the seal between the tooth and the filling breaks down, food debris and bacteria can seep down under the filling and cause recurrent decay. If the decay is treated early, replacing the filling is adequate. If not, a crown and even a root canal may be needed. The biggest mistake you can make is waiting to do something about a broken or unsealed filling until it is painful. Doing this will only make the treatment more involved and often times more expensive.

Regular dental exams and X-rays are used to evaluate dental fillings. You will not be able to tell on your own when your fillings start to fail. Just as a car mechanic will change the oil, correct your alignment, or change your tires, a dental checkup will help you identify small concerns to fix as you go in order to avoid a critical emergency.

Pay attention to any bite or temperature sensitivity in teeth that have fillings. This can be an indicator for some of the problems listed above. You know your teeth better than anyone. Your observations are most valuable when evaluating a filling for replacement. If replacement is needed, know you are doing what is best to prevent future dental calamities and make an appointment to see Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk.

What's in toothpaste and how does it work?

January 17th, 2024

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team recommend that you brush your teeth two to three times a day, for at least two minutes each time. But have you ever wondered what’s in toothpaste and how it actually works? The mouth is home to more than 500 types of microorganisms that feed on leftover food that gets stuck on and around your teeth. Toothpaste is the best line of defense against all those pesky microorganisms (especially when you brush two to three times a day). Here’s how it works.

Abrasives

Toothpaste contains mild abrasive additives that combat microorganisms and fight plaque. When you brush, the abrasives in toothpaste dislodge food particles and microorganisms more effectively than if you simply brush your teeth with water. The abrasives also work to remove food stains and polish the surface of the tooth. Some toothpastes include ingredients like triclosan and Xylitol. These chemicals prevent the growth of bacteria that produce plaque. Plaque not only causes cavities, but it can also lead to more dangerous issues like periodontal disease.

Fluoride

Fluoride is key ingredient in toothpaste. As the microorganisms in your mouth feed off the leftover food particles, they leave behind acid and sulfur byproducts that wear away the enamel of the teeth. This is the fancy, technical way of saying that the acid on your teeth causes cavities. As for the sulfur byproduct –well, that’s just a fancy, scientific name for bad breath. Fluoride works to fight the acid and help protect the teeth. By brushing, the fluoride is incorporated into the tooth enamel, which in turn makes the tooth more resistant to acid and plaque.

Flavoring and Sweetening Agents

Not all toothpaste tastes the same, right? The type of flavoring or sweetening agents added to the toothpaste doesn't have anything to do with fighting microorganisms and plaque, but taste is one of the most important selling points in finding a toothpaste brand you like. Flavoring agents mask the taste of some of the other ingredients in toothpaste, and without those agents chances are nobody would be brushing their teeth two to three time a day.

What exactly is a cavity?

January 17th, 2024

We all know how discouraging can be it to hear you have a dental cavity. Knowing how cavities form can help you prevent them from popping up in your mouth. If you want to avoid a trip to see Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk, pay attention to the measures you can take to prevent bothersome cavities.

Did you know that cavities are properly a symptom of a disease called caries? When you have caries, the number of bad bacteria in your mouth increases, which causes an acceleration in tooth decay. Caries are caused by a pH imbalance in your mouth that creates problems with the biofilm on the teeth.

When there are long periods of low pH balance in the mouth, this creates a breeding ground for bacteria. When you get caries, this type of bacteria thrives in an acidic environment.

Depending on which foods and beverages you consume, the biofilm pH in your mouth will vary. The lower the pH number, the higher the acidity. When your intake contains mostly acidic foods that sit on your teeth, cavities begin to form. Water has a neutral pH, which makes it a good tool to promote a healthy pH balance in your mouth.

A healthy pH balance in your mouth will prevent cavities from forming over time. Mouth breathing and specific medications may also be factors that contribute to the development of caries when saliva flow decreases. Without saliva flow to act as a buffer against acid, bacteria has a higher chance of growing.

Don’t forget: Getting cavities isn’t only about eating too many sweets. It’s also about managing the pH levels in your mouth and preventing bad bacteria from growing on your teeth.

If you think you might have a cavity forming in your mouth, schedule an appointment at our Middleton, WI office. It’s worthwhile to treat cavities early and avoid extensive procedures such as root canals from becoming necessary.

Keep up with brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash so you can prevent cavities over time.

Ways to Prevent Oral Cancer

January 10th, 2024

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, this form of cancer kills roughly one person an hour, every 24 hours. This means that nearly 10,000 people will die this year from this type of cancer.

Often, the cancer is discovered late, which is the main reason the death rate is unfortunately so high. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team want you to know the precautionary steps you can take to avoid oral cancer.

Here are some of the most effective methods:

  • Good oral hygiene is the first step in oral cancer prevention.
  • Visit our Middleton, WI office every six months for a dental exam.
  • Quit smoking or using chewing tobacco, if you do.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet.
  • Consume cancer-fighting foods such as vegetables, berries, garlic, green tea, etc.
  • Change how you prepare foods; baked, boiled, or steamed foods are healthier than grilled or fried.
  • Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy immune system.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend in the sun, and be sure to use sunscreen.
  • Conduct an oral self-exam each week.

We know the thought of oral cancer can be frightening, so we hope the above advice can help patients catch it early or prevent it from ever happening. If you notice a negative change in your oral health, contact our Middleton, WI location right away and schedule an appointment with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk.

If you’re ever concerned or have questions about this common form of cancer, don’t hesitate to ask a member of our team.  

 

Should I have TMD treated? Why?

January 10th, 2024

TMD occurs when your bite is not properly aligned. It can cause the jaw to experience unnatural stresses and prevent it from resting properly when your mouth is closed. If you have TMD, you may have noticed a clicking noise when you chew, speak, or yawn; you may even experience pain and discomfort during these actions. In some cases, your jaw may feel “locked” following a wide yawn.

TMD can cause pain and discomfort in the jaw as well as headaches that occur when the muscles that help the joints open and close become overtired. But beyond the pain and discomfort, TMD can also cause serious dental problems if left untreated.

Because TMD is associated with a poor bite or malocclusion (which literally translated means “bad closure”), your teeth do not meet properly. As a result, extra tension and stress may be placed on your teeth, resulting in chips and cracks that allow cavities to form and may even result in tooth loss. Over time, TMD can cause teeth to break, which requires cosmetic treatment to rebuild your healthy smile, and ensure the broken tooth and its neighbors are protected from decay.

While treating TMD used to mean expensive and invasive surgery to reposition or even rebuild the jaw joints, today’s approach at hartstone dental is much more patient-friendly. By restoring broken, chipped, or cracked teeth, replacing missing teeth, and using braces or other dental devices, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team can help realign your jaw so it’s able to function properly, and eliminate pain and discomfort. And there’s more good news: By restoring damaged teeth and tooth surfaces and straightening crooked teeth, you’re also left with a more attractive smile once treatment is completed.

Every patient is different, and that means your course of treatment will be different too. After a thorough examination of your teeth and jaw, our experienced staff at hartstone dental will work with you to develop a treatment plan that will have you feeling better – and looking better – sooner than you ever expected. Don’t let your untreated TMD cause more pain and problems; give us a call at our convenient Middleton, WI office today to schedule a consultation.

Four Oral Health Issues Seniors Face

January 4th, 2024

Oral health is an important and often overlooked component of an older person’s general health and well-being. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team know that for many of our older patients, oral health can become an issue when arthritis or other neurological problems render them unable to brush or floss their teeth as effectively as they once did. Today, we thought we would discuss four common oral health issues our older patients face and how they can avoid them:

Cavities: It’s not just children who get tooth decay—oral decay is a common disease in people 65 and older. Ninety-two percent of seniors 65 and older have had dental caries in their permanent teeth, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The risk for tooth decay increases because many older adults don’t go to the dentist as often as they used to, thus cavities go undetected and untreated for longer than they should. Keeping regular appointments with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk is the key to getting cavities treated in a timely manner.

Difficulty eating: Oral health problems, whether from missing teeth, cavities, dentures that don’t fit, gum disease, or infection, can cause difficulty eating and can force people to adjust the quality, consistency, and balance of their diet.

Dry mouth: Also called xerostomia, dry mouth is a common issue for a lot of seniors. Our friends at the Oral Cancer Foundation estimate that 20 percent of elderly people suffer from dry mouth, which means the reduced flow of saliva (saliva plays a crucial role in preventing tooth decay). Many seniors are on multiple medications for a variety of chronic illnesses or conditions. Common medications taken that may cause dry mouth are decongestants, antihistamines, blood pressure medications, pain pills, incontinence medications, antidepressants, diuretics, muscle relaxers, and Parkinson’s disease medications. To help counter this, we suggest drinking lots of fluids and limiting your intake of caffeine and alcohol. We also encourage you to check with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk during your next visit if you think your medications are causing your mouth to feel dry.

Gum Disease: Gum (periodontal) disease is an infection of the gums and surrounding tissues that hold teeth in place. While gum disease affects people of all ages, it typically becomes worse as people age. In its early stages, gum disease is painless, and most people have no idea that they have it. In more advanced cases, however, gum disease can cause sore gums and pain when chewing.

Gum disease, which can range from simple gum inflammation to serious disease, is usually caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow dental plaque to build up on the teeth. Plaque that is not removed can harden and form tartar that brushing simply does not clean. Only a professional cleaning at our office can remove tartar. The two forms of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen, and can bleed easily; in periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces that become infected.

Proper brushing, flossing, and visiting our office regularly can prevent gum disease. Seniors with limited dexterity who have trouble gripping a toothbrush should ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about modifying a handle for easier use or switching to a battery-powered toothbrush.

Heading Off to College? Maybe It’s Time to Graduate to an Electric Toothbrush!

January 4th, 2024

Your trusty manual toothbrush has been with you from pre-school through high school—well, obviously not the same manual toothbrush, because that would be seriously unhygienic—but it’s the kind of toothbrush you’re used to and comfortable with.

Now, though, you’re off to college, and your lifestyle will be changing. Late night study sessions complete with study session snacks. Getting caught up in a project and making dinner from dorm vending machines. Grabbing fast food on the way to the practice field, or work-study job, or evening class. You get the point—meals can be hectic, unscheduled, and less than tooth friendly.

Maybe it’s time to consider an electric toothbrush. After all, anything that can make your life easier and more efficient during busy college days deserves a spot in your dorm room.

  • Electric Brushes Are Effective

The most important reason to switch to an electric toothbrush is its effectiveness. Several studies have shown that regular use of an electric toothbrush leads to a marked reduction in plaque, that bacteria-filled film which sticks to the teeth and leads to cavities and gingivitis. And it’s really no surprise that an electric brush can out-perform a manual brush.

Electric toothbrushes offer several design options, from oscillating/rotating brushes to oscillating/rotating/pulsating models to brushes using sonic vibration technology. What these technologies all have in common is the ability to remove plaque far more efficiently than we can on our own, because electric brushes provide the equivalent of thousands and even tens of thousands of brushstrokes per minute, compared to the hundreds we can achieve by hand.

You know by now what your brushing habits are like. If you tend to be a bit cavalier with your brushing and flossing, make sure you set yourself up for success. Because you have better things to do during semester breaks and summer vacations than visiting Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk!

  • Electric Brushes Can Make Life Easier

Several of today’s electric brushes come with options designed to do more than simply remove plaque. They can let you know if you’ve brushed for the recommended two minutes, alert you if you’re brushing too hard, and even remind you when it’s time to replace the brush head.

Want more from your electric brush? Some models offer apps that can map out just where you’ve brushed, in case there are a few spots that often get overlooked. Or provide different brushing modes for daily cleaning, deep cleaning, whitening, and more. Or come with a travel case that can recharge while you’re busy exploring the world—or going home for a visit.

In the end, it’s up to you. Do some independent study and research the toothbrushes that will give you the best results for your individual brushing habits. You might not need or want a brush with all the technological bells and whistles.

If you’re comfortable with your manual brush and you get good grades when you visit our Middleton, WI office, stick with it. But if you think you might benefit from the ease and efficiency of an electric toothbrush, if an electric toothbrush makes your teeth and gums healthier and your smile brighter, that’s an extra credit project worth pursuing.

Sleep Apnea and Snoring

December 28th, 2023

Snoring may not be something you take seriously. You might even laugh or joke about it. But the fact is, anytime you or your partner snore to the point of waking, it could be a sign of serious health problems.

Sleep Apnea and Its Effects

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that is potentially dangerous, and the most common symptom is loud snoring. Breathing repeatedly starts and stops throughout the night, and you wake up feeling tired. Other serious effects from sleep apnea could be potentially dangerous to your health if left unaddressed.

Besides losing a good night's sleep, you may experience difficulty concentrating. Depression, risk of heart attack, irritability, high blood pressure, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, and chances of stroke all increase when sleep apnea is not treated.

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax to the point of inhibiting natural breathing. The muscles used to support the soft palate relax and the airway closes, causing breathing to stop for ten to 20 seconds. This lowers the oxygen level in the brain. As the brain senses the inhibited oxygen levels it rouses the sleeper awake so the airway can reopen. Normally, the reawakening is so brief the person won't remember it.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, visit our Middleton, WI office and let Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk determine what treatment is needed. Without it, you could risk losing more than a restful night's sleep.

Prevention and Treatment

Anyone can develop sleep apnea, but it is more common among middle-aged adults who are overweight. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can help you determine the cause and suggest positive treatment.

A common treatment for apnea is the placement of oral devices that are designed to help keep the airway open. By bringing the jaw forward, the device opens the airway and thereby discourages snoring. We are experienced in sleep apnea appliances, and Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can prescribe a fitted device and monitor its success with follow-up therapy.

A continuous positive airway pressure mask, known as a CPAP, is among the other treatment options. A mask is fitted over the mouth and forces oxygen through the throat while you sleep. The pressure holds the soft tissue and throat muscles open.

Our professionals at hartstone dental can advise you of other ways to prevent sleep apnea, including weight loss, avoiding alcohol, or alternative sleeping positions. We can help you sleep return to easy sleep, knowing you are safer and healthier during your resting hours.

Five (Easy-to-Keep!) Dental Resolutions for the New Year

December 28th, 2023

It’s a new year! A blank calendar! A traditional time to make a few changes that could change your life for the better. And while we applaud big goals like learning a new language or finally getting those closets reorganized, we’d like to start small with a few simple, proactive dental resolutions suitable for anyone’s list.

  1. Floss Every Day

Yes, we know we talk a lot about flossing. That’s because flossing can be a game-changer when it comes to healthy teeth and gums.

Proper flossing removes the plaque from spots your brush often misses—between the teeth and near the gum line. When you floss, you accomplish two goals: you help prevent cavities and you help prevent gum disease. And once each day is all it takes—as long as you take your time and floss properly.

If you’re having trouble flossing properly (a very common problem!), don’t hesitate to talk with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk to discover the best techniques and products to make your personal flossing experience as relaxed and effective as possible.

  1. Retire Your Brush

Brushes work hard—that’s why they should be replaced after a few months of use. Bristles start to fray over weeks of brushing, which means you aren’t getting the full benefit of your great brushing technique.

Switch out your brush every three to four months, or earlier if you notice any bristle damage, and you’ll enjoy cleaner teeth without changing your normal brushing habits.

  1. Protect Your Smile

Take some simple, everyday precautions to protect your teeth and your smile.

  • If you haven’t already, be sure to buy a soft-bristled brush when you replace your old one. Soft bristles are strong enough to brush away plaque while protecting your tooth enamel and gum tissue from abrasion.
  • Use a mouthguard when you enjoy any sports or activities where you might make contact with an object or person or the ground.
  • Ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about a custom night guard if you grind your teeth. If you have a night guard, don’t forget to wear it.
  • Protect and strengthen your tooth enamel with fluoride, a proven cavity-fighter. Fluoride toothpaste? Yes, please! And if your community doesn’t have fluoridated water, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about whether fluoride treatments are a good idea.
  1. Pay Attention to Your Body’s Signals

Don’t ignore symptoms which might indicate problems with your oral health.

  • Tooth and Jaw Pain

Pain can be caused by many conditions, including a cavity, an abscess, a pulp infection, a cracked tooth, or problems with your bite. Visit our Middleton, WI office to discover why you’re suffering and to treat any dental problem before it becomes more serious.

  • Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease can cause symptoms like swelling, redness, pain, receding or bleeding gums, and chronic bad breath. Sometimes, more careful attention to brushing and flossing is all you need to reverse early gum disease. But when your symptoms linger, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can help you avoid more serious gum disease with periodontal treatment.

  1. Visit hartstone dental Regularly

Don’t wait for pain or other worrisome symptoms before you give us a call. Proactive care can catch potential problems early, reducing your risk of more serious conditions.

Start the new year off right. These five small adjustments to your daily routine can have a big impact on your oral health. Be proactive now, and you’ll enjoy a new year filled with healthy smiles.

Famous Dentists in History

December 21st, 2023

Every six months or so you head down to your local dentist for a teeth cleaning, but have you ever thought that your dentist could one day be famous? Well, the chances are unlikely, however, there have been a number of dentists throughout history that have achieved acclaim and celebrity coming from a profession that is not typically associated with such regard. Here are a few examples:

Doc Holliday

Perhaps most famous for his gun fight at the O.K Corral alongside his buddy, Wyatt Earp, but "Doc" also had a day job as a dentist. He was trained in Pennsylvania and later opened a thriving practice near Atlanta. Sadly, Holliday came down with a case of tuberculosis and had to close his practice. He then packed his stuff and moved west, and we all know how the rest of the story goes.

Mark Spitz

Known around the world as a champion swimmer, Spitz was actually accepted into dentistry school before he became an Olympic gold medalist. While he ultimately decided not to attend school, it's safe to say he made the right choice considering he now has seven gold medals.

Paul Revere

The most famous dentist to come out of the American Revolution, Paul Revere was a man of many hats. He, of course, is known throughout history books for warning the colonies of the impending British troops on the attack, but when he wasn't involved in the fight he had a few different jobs. He was a silversmith, but also advertised his services as a dentist. More specifically, he specialized in making false teeth for people in need.

Miles Davis' Father

Miles Davis Jr. was one of the most acclaimed and influential jazz musicians of all time and his dad was a dentist. Miles Davis Sr. had a thriving dental practice and was a member of the NAACP. Dentistry was how he paid the bills and provided for Miles Jr., so in some ways it seems we all have the dental profession to thank for allowing Miles Jr. to become such a fantastic musician, and treating us to his jazz stylings.

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk may not be famous, but you’ll still receive excellent care each and every time you visit our Middleton, WI office.

Suffer from tooth discoloration? Don’t panic!

December 21st, 2023

Like many other parts of the human body, teeth age. You may look at old photos and realize your smile was significantly brighter in the past than it is now. Many adults experience tooth discoloration and find it embarrassing.

The good news is there are treatment options! The first step to recovering your bright smile and finding appropriate treatment is to determine what’s causing the discoloration.

There are multiple reasons for tooth discoloration. Some are under your control, but unfortunately, others may not be. Glance at the list below and see if you can pinpoint the cause of your tooth discoloration.

  • Poor Dental Hygiene: This one is obvious. There’s a reason your parents (and dentist) always told you to brush and floss three times a day.
  • Genetics: A big part of your dental health is determined by genetics; in other words, what runs in your family. Sometimes people inherit naturally discolored teeth.
  • Diet: Do you eat sugary foods often? Drink lots of soda? Gulp more than two cups of coffee a day? Are you an energy drink fan? We’re not pointing any fingers ... but you should do the math.
  • Tobacco: Because cigarettes contain nicotine, they can readily stain your teeth. So hardcore smokers often develop prominent brown stains.
  • Medications: Medicines such as doxycycline, tetracycline, antihistamines, blood-pressure medications, and antipsychotic drugs can all create tooth discoloration as a side effect. (If you suspect this could be the case for you, don’t ever discontinue your medication without consulting your doctor first!)

Did you find the culprit? Perhaps the easiest way to avoid tooth discoloration in your case might be to make some simple adjustments to your diet and other habits.

Also, when you consume drinks or foods that are high in acid or sugar content, take a moment to rinse your mouth with water afterward. If you’re an avid tobacco user, you may want to reconsider that; especially because it can have deadly effects that go way beyond your smile.

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can also suggest other treatment options. While over-the-counter agents do help, in-office whitening treatments tend to be more effective. If whitening agents don’t alleviate the problem, you may want to consider bondings or veneers.

If you’re worried about discoloration of your teeth, or have any questions about how to treat it, please feel free to reach out to our Middleton, WI office! We can help you identify what may be causing the problem and work with you to give you a smile you’ll be proud of.

Teeth Grinding Can Damage Your Teeth

December 14th, 2023

Grinding of the teeth, also known as bruxism, is a serious condition from which nearly ten percent of Americans suffer. It’s a mechanical reflex that often happens during slumber. Unfortunately, most people don’t recall grinding their teeth when they awaken.

This makes it difficult to catch the condition before serious damage occurs. Some people notice soreness in their jaw, shoulder and neck pain, or even headaches. Others aren’t so lucky and don’t feel any pain until a professional notices they have developed cracked teeth, receding gums, and jaw problems.

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team hope to prevent teeth grinding before serious health concerns arise. Let’s go over the reasons for grinding as well as preventive tips to help you feel better fast.

Why do you grind your teeth?

The most common reasons for teeth grinding include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Poor muscle control
  • Acid reflux
  • Sleep apnea
  • Complications from certain disorders

It’s worthwhile to understand the reason you’re grinding your teeth, but it’s even more vital to treat the issue quickly. You can take measures to alleviate the pain you may be experiencing, such as applying a warm wash cloth to your jaw, taking muscle relaxants, massaging the jaw muscles, visiting a chiropractor, or doing physical therapy.

Prevention

To protect your oral health and jaw bones, try these preventive measures:

  • Reduce the amount of stress in your life
  • Drink plenty of water every day
  • Avoid chewing gum or chewy foods
  • Get plenty of sleep each night
  • Reduce or stop alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Get a custom mouthguard from hartstone dental

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team want to make sure you’re properly treating your teeth grinding issues. Feel free to call our Middleton, WI office if you think you may be suffering from this condition, or have questions regarding a treatment plan.

Teeth grinding can lead to far more serious health issues, and should be ended before it becomes a major concern.

Oral Cancer

December 14th, 2023

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team want you to have the healthiest possible smile in the healthiest possible body. Oral cancer can affect the mouth, tongue, throat and jaw. Early detection is vital for the best possible outcome when treating this disease. That is why we check for symptoms of oral cancer at every dental examination.

What can you do to reduce the chance of oral cancer?  Reduce your risk factors. You can help prevent oral cancer by adopting these healthy habits:

  • Don’t smoke. Don’t chew tobacco. Don’t use a pipe. If you use any tobacco products, quit. Tobacco use is the single largest risk factor for head and neck cancers. Talk to us—we have suggestions for helping you break the habit.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. Heavy drinkers have a higher rate of oral cancer. More than one to two drinks per day can be considered heavy drinking, depending on factors such as weight, age, and even gender. Check with your doctor to find your personal definition of moderation.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables are a great addition to any menu.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Help prevent sun-related lip cancers by always wearing a UVA/UVB blocking sun screen or lip balm whenever you are working or playing outside—and reapply frequently.
  • Some forms of the HPV virus have been linked to oral cancer, and those affected are generally younger and less likely to be smokers. Research indicates that the HPV vaccine, known for preventing several types of cancer, might also help prevent HPV-related oral cancers.
  • Schedule regular dental exams. We are trained to recognize oral cancer and precancerous conditions that you might miss.

Of course, cancer can occur even with the healthiest habits. Do come see us if you detect any of these symptoms:

  • A sore or ulcer that doesn’t heal, or persistent tenderness and pain in the mouth
  • Lingering sore throat, hoarseness, or vocal changes
  • Pain in the neck or ear that doesn’t go away
  • A lump, a rough or thickened area, or eroded tissue in the skin lining the mouth
  • Red or white patches in the lining of the mouth or on the tongue
  • Difficulties chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the tongue or jaw
  • Numbness in the tongue or mouth
  • Changes in the way your natural teeth or your dentures fit together.

Not every symptom is caused by cancer, but it is important to rule out the possibility. We are trained to recognize early signs of oral cancer, and can recommend further tests if needed. Call our Middleton, WI office immediately if you have any concerns. Early detection and treatment lead to the most successful outcomes.  

What’s the Big Deal about Sleep Apnea?

December 7th, 2023

What’s the big deal about a little snoring during the night? Or feeling a bit drowsy during the day? Or an occasional bout of insomnia? If your sleep problems are few and far between, probably not a major worry. But if your sleep disruptions are frequent, getting worse, or more noticeable to those around you, your problem might be sleep apnea. And that can be a big deal.

Sleep apnea occurs in three forms:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea

This is the most common form of sleep apnea. It can be the result of the muscles in the back of the throat relaxing during sleep to obstruct the airway. Obstruction can also be caused by a physical condition such as a deviated septum, excess throat tissue or enlarged tonsils.  Loud snoring often results as the sleeper struggles to inhale through the obstructed passageway.

  • Central sleep apnea

Central sleep apnea is caused by the brain failing to transmit the proper signals to breathe during sleep. The sleeper either stops breathing, or takes such shallow breaths that he or she can’t get enough air into the lungs.

  • Complex sleep apnea

This condition is a mix of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Any of these forms of sleep apnea will cause a miserable night’s sleep. Sufferers actually stop breathing for a brief time. To start breathing properly again, our bodies move from the deep sleep we need to restore our physical and mental health to shallow sleep or even momentary wakefulness. And these disruptive episodes can happen dozens of times an hour, all night long. You might think you have gotten a full night’s sleep, while in reality you are suffering from sleep deprivation.

When you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, the immediate consequences are easy to see and hear. Loud snoring, choking, constant drowsiness—you (and your loved ones) suffer from these symptoms night and day. But the hidden consequences of this disorder are even more dangerous. Sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. It can cause memory problems, depression, and mood changes. Loss of focus and slow reflexes can lead to accidents. Complications from general anesthetics and medications can also become a serious risk.

Snoring is not the only symptom of sleep apnea. If you notice that you often wake up with a sore throat, a dry mouth, or a headache, have difficulty going to sleep at night or staying awake during the day, can’t concentrate,  or constantly feel irritable—you should consider the possibility that you suffer from sleep apnea. Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk at our Middleton, WI office. We can recommend options that will have you once again sleeping soundly in your bed, waking up refreshed and healthy. And that is a big deal.

Happy Holidays! Healthy Holidays!

December 7th, 2023

It’s the holiday season! With so much to do and so much going on, you want to be at your best. We have some ideas to help make your season bright with a few easy tips for a healthy smile.

  • Keep Your Smile Merry and Bright

There’s a lot going on during the holidays. Visiting friends. Traveling to see family. Parties and get togethers. With all the enjoyable festivities on your holiday schedule, you might be tempted to overlook brushing or flossing. But, please don’t!

Many of our favorite holiday traditions and activities are centered around sharing good company, good cheer—and good food.

Indulging in more treats throughout the day, especially sugars and simple carbs, provides more fuel for the bacteria in plaque. These bacteria produce acids that weaken tooth enamel—the first stage of tooth decay. Plaque buildup also irritates the gums, causing swelling, redness, pain, bleeding, and chronic bad breath.

How to avoid these not-so-jolly consequences? Make time in your holiday schedule for dental care! Brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing once each day removes plaque buildup and helps prevent cavities and gum disease.

  • Holiday Snacks—Naughty or Nice?

We’re no Scrooges—enjoying holiday treats is one of the ways we celebrate. But since we’re trying to prevent a plaque buffet of sugar and simple carbs, it’s a good idea to add some healthier foods to the mix.

Whether it’s platters of snacks around the game table or a stylish hors d’oeuvre array, don’t forget to add nutritional, dental-friendly items to your plate. Options such as fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, nuts, and whole grain breads and crackers are great partners for more indulgent selections because they’re lower in added sugars and provide vitamins and minerals to strengthen teeth and gums.

And from the candy bar? Hard candies and candy canes make our naughty list because they take a long time to dissolve while bathing your teeth in sugar. So do caramels, toffees, and gumdrops, which stick between teeth and gums. Soft chocolates? A much nicer choice, because they are more easily rinsed away by saliva or a drink of water. Which leads us to . . .

  • A Toast to Your (Dental) Health!

The holidays offer some of our favorite seasonal beverages. But spiced lattes, mochas, and hot chocolate can be full of sugar.

The answer? Enjoy in moderation, and enjoy with a glass of water. Water washes away sugars, neutralizes acids, helps increase saliva flow for tooth and gum health, hydrates, and, when it’s fluoridated, protects and repairs your enamel. That’s a lot of gifts in one convenient package!

  • Dashing through the Snow?

If you’re taking to the slopes, or the hills, or the rink for a little holiday exercise, don’t forget to protect your teeth and mouth. It’s not just sports like football and hockey that cause dental injuries—it’s any sport where you can fall or make contact with someone or something.

If you don’t have a mouthguard, they’re available at sporting goods stores in stock sizes or models that can be molded to your teeth. A custom mouthguard from our Middleton, WI office is more comfortable, fits better, and protects you better. This is a perfect gift to give yourself so you can take advantage of all those cold weather sports with confidence.

We all look forward to holiday surprises—but not when they take the form of cavities, gum disease, or dental injuries! In the flurry of holiday activities, keep up with your regular dental care, and you’ll be looking forward to a new year filled with happy and healthy smiles.

Xerostomia: Big Word, Common Problem

November 29th, 2023

Xerostomia might sound like a serious and rare condition, but it’s more common than you think. If you’ve been feeling like your mouth is constantly dry, you may already be having your first encounter with it.

Xerostomia refers to when you have a dry mouth due to absent or reduced saliva flow. Now you might assume this is not a big deal, but a lack of saliva can threaten your dental health or worse, because it can be a sign of a bigger overall problem.

Some of the more common symptoms to watch for are a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, a burning sensation on the tongue, and of course, a significant lack of saliva. Because xerostomia entails a reduction in saliva, you have less of a buffer between your teeth and the food you eat, which makes you more vulnerable to cavities and tooth decay. It also means that food is more likely to get stuck in your mouth.

So what causes xerostomia? There can be many different culprits. One of the most common causes involves medication. If you’re taking antidepressants, muscle relaxers, anti-diarrhea medicine, anti-anxiety medicine, or antihistamines, this could be the reason for your xerostomia.

Dry mouth may also be a warning sign for other health issues. These can include lupus, diabetes, thyroid disease, arthritis, or hypertension. Patients that receive any kind of chemotherapy might also experience xerostomia as a side effect of their treatment.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of dry mouth, there are several things you can do:

  • This may seem obvious, but you should drink generous amounts of water. If you’re taking any of the medications known to cause xerostomia, a glass of water before and after administering the medication could be helpful.
  • Avoid heavily caffeinated drinks, since they will dehydrate you further.
  • Opt for a mouthwash that contains little to no alcohol.
  • Consume excessively sugary or acidic foods in moderation, if at all.
  • Try adding a humidifier to your room while you sleep, to add moisture to the air you’ll be breathing.

As always, stay on top of your brushing and flossing routines, and if you feel you might be suffering from xerostomia, please let Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk know during your next visit to our Middleton, WI office. We’re happy to recommend products we’ve found to be successful in treating xerostomia.

Is a Lost Tooth a Lost Cause?

November 29th, 2023

We’re used to seeing athletes wearing mouthguards at practice or play, because dental trauma is one of the most common (and predictable) sports injuries. But it’s not just athletes who are at risk, and there are some events in our daily lives that we just can’t predict. Car accidents, falls, workplace injuries, even innocent playground structures can take their toll on our smiles.

A major chip or a crack in your tooth is upsetting enough, and should be seen by Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk as soon as possible. It’s even more unnerving when a tooth is knocked out completely. The technical term for a tooth which has been knocked out is an avulsed tooth, and it is a true dental emergency.

If you should suffer a partially or completely dislodged tooth, there is a possibility that your tooth can be reimplanted—if the damage isn’t too severe and if you get to our office immediately.

How can a lost tooth be saved? This is possible because of the complex biological engineering that anchors our teeth within the jaw. The root of a tooth is surrounded by the periodontal ligament. This connective tissue attaches the tooth to the alveolar bone of the jaw. When a tooth is knocked out, this ligament splits apart, leaving some tissue on the tooth root and some within the tooth’s socket.

To successfully reimplant a tooth, the connective tissue cells around the root of the tooth need to be vital, so that they can begin to reattach to the connective tissue left in the socket. Over time, this reattachment is complete, and the tooth becomes firmly anchored to the bone again.

It’s important to protect your tooth before you see Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk to make sure there will be enough healthy tissue for reattachment. First of all,

  • Don’t panic! If you or a friend or family member lose a tooth, call your dentist or your emergency health care provider as soon as possible. You will get specific instructions for your specific situation.

If you are unable to reach a healthcare provider immediately, there are some general rules for taking care of an avulsed tooth:

  • Find the lost tooth. Don’t touch the root—use the crown, or top part of the tooth, to pick it up. You are trying to preserve and protect the connective tissue on the root surface.

 

  • If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse it in milk, saliva, or water. Don’t wipe it off, though. You could damage those connective tissue cells mentioned above.

 

  • Place the tooth back in the socket, if possible. Gently hold it in place with your fingers or bite down (again, gently). You can also place the tooth in your mouth next to your cheek.

 

  • If returning the tooth to the socket is not an option, or if you are worried about a child possibly swallowing the tooth, keep the tooth moist. Whole milk or solutions sold just for the purpose of preserving an avulsed tooth are better choices than water, which damage the tissue cells on the root. And never wrap the tooth tightly—this can also damage the connective tissue.

Above all,

  • Don’t delay! The faster a tooth is reimplanted in its socket, the greater chance you have of keeping it. Really, every minute counts. Reimplantations are more successful if they take place within 30 minutes. After an hour out of the mouth, your tooth’s chances of successful reintegration are lower—but still worth pursuing!

What will Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk do?

  • Evaluate the avulsed tooth.

There are variables which can affect whether or not a lost tooth is a good candidate for reimplantation. Trying to replace a baby tooth, for example, could interfere with the formation of the adult tooth. An adult tooth that is broken will probably require a different type of treatment.

  • Prevent infection.

You might be given antibiotics and a referral to your medical doctor for a tetanus booster if needed.

  • Clean the site.

The socket will be gently irrigated to clean the area and to remove any clots that may have formed which can interfere with the tooth’s placement.

  • Recommend or perform a root canal.

Nerves and blood vessels within the tooth’s pulp generally don’t recover after a serious traumatic injury, so a root canal procedure could be necessary to preserve the health of your tooth. This procedure might be done immediately, or might be recommended for a later date.

  • Stabilize your tooth.

The tooth must be stabilized after being reimplanted, so Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will use a splint to anchor the tooth to the teeth next to it. The splint can be flexible or rigid, depending on the condition of the alveolar bone. Splinting generally takes from two to eight weeks, and you will be given detailed instructions for taking care of the area while you heal.

Losing a tooth is an alarming experience. But with prompt action, and a trip to our Middleton, WI office, it might be possible to make that loss only a temporary one.

Treating Gum Disease with Antibiotics

November 22nd, 2023

Why does gum disease develop? Our mouths are home to bacteria, which form a film called plaque. Plaque sticks to the surfaces of our teeth, at the gumline, and can even grow below the gumline. And this bacterial growth leads to inflammation and gum disease.

When the disease progresses, the gums gradually pull away from the teeth leaving pockets which can be home to infection. Toxins can attack the bone structures and connective tissue, which support our teeth. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to serious infection and even tooth loss.

Because we are dealing with bacteria, it makes sense that antibiotics are one way to combat gum disease. Depending on the condition of your gums, we might suggest one of the following treatments:

  • Mouthwashes—there are mouthwashes available with a prescription that are stronger than over-the-counter antibiotic formulas, and can be used after brushing and flossing.
  • Topical Ointments—These ointments or gels are applied directly to the gums, most often used for mild forms of the disease.
  • Time-release Treatments—If there is severe inflammation in a pocket, we might place a biodegradable powder, chip, or gel containing antibiotics directly in the affected area. These minute methods release antibiotics over a period of time as they dissolve.
  • Pills and Capsules—For more serious periodontal disease, you could be prescribed an oral antibiotic. Take in pill or capsule form as recommended, and always finish the entire prescription.

Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk at our Middleton, WI office before beginning a course of antibiotics. It’s important to know if you have any allergies to medications, what to look for if you might have an allergy you didn’t know about, if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, or if you have any health concerns that would prohibit antibiotic use. Talk to us about possible side effects and how to use the medication most successfully. With proper treatment, we can treat gum disease as quickly and effectively as possible, and provide advice on maintaining a periodontal routine that will keep your gums and teeth healthy for years to come.

The Effects of Biting Your Nails

November 22nd, 2023

Also known as onchophagia, the habit of nail biting is one of the so-called “nervous habits” that can be triggered by stress, excitement, or boredom. Approximately half of all kids between the ages of ten and 18 have been nail biters at one time or another. Experts say that about 30 percent of children and 15 percent of adults are nail biters, however most people stop chewing their nails by the time they turn 30.

Here are four dental and general reasons to stop biting your nails:

1. It’s unsanitary: Your nails harbor bacteria and germs, and are almost twice as dirty as fingers. What’s more, swallowing dirty nails can lead to stomach problems.

2. It wears down your teeth: Gnawing your nails can put added stress on your pearly whites, which can lead to crooked teeth.

3. It can delay your orthodontic treatment: For those of our patients wearing braces, nail biting puts additional pressure on teeth and weakens roots.

4. It can cost you, literally: It has been estimated that up to $4,000 in extra dental bills can build up over a lifetime.

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team recommend the following to kick your nail biting habit:

  • Keep your nails trimmed short; you’ll have less of a nail to bite.
  • Coat your nails with a bitter-tasting nail polish.
  • Ask us about obtaining a mouthguard, which can help prevent nail biting.
  • Put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it whenever you get the urge to gnaw on your nails.
  • Think about when and why you chew your nails. Whether you are nervous or just bored, understanding the triggers can help you find a solution and stop the habit.
  • If you can’t stop, behavioral therapy may be an effective option to stop nail biting. Ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team for a recommendation.

Oral Health Concerns Specific to Pregnant Women

November 15th, 2023

A lot of changes occur in a woman's body during pregnancy. Hormone fluctuations are responsible for many of those changes, including the need for additional attention to the teeth and gums. Women who are expecting are at an increased risk for oral health complications, including gingivitis and tooth decay, which can lead to irreversible damage. Fortunately, there are steps pregnant women can take to keep their teeth and gums in optimal health from the first trimester to delivery day. Today, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team at hartstone dental thought we would share them.

At-home dental care

At-home dental care should not vary much from what you did prior to pregnancy. The American Dental Association recommends brushing at a minimum of twice per day using fluoridated toothpaste. Follow up with floss to keep bacteria from accumulating in hard-to-reach spaces.

Dental checkups

It is safe and recommended to continue visiting Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for routine dental checkups and cleanings during pregnancy. However, it is very important to inform Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about an existing pregnancy. Special steps must be taken to protect pregnant women from certain medications or X-ray radiation that could be harmful to a growing baby. On the other hand, avoiding teeth cleanings during pregnancy can lead to serious consequences, including advanced tooth decay and infection.

Food and cravings

It is no secret that pregnancy can cause a woman to crave specific foods. Sugary treats like candy, cookies, or sodas may satisfy a sweet tooth, but they can also cause serious dental problems when consumed frequently or without brushing afterward. Trade out these treats for naturally sweet fruits when possible, and never forget to brush and floss thoroughly after eating sugar-filled foods.

Signs of complications

It is important to know and recognize the signs of oral health problems during pregnancy; an early diagnosis usually translates to an easier, less-invasive treatment. Symptoms of potential problems include gums that easily bleed or are swollen, reddened, or painful. These are symptoms of gingivitis, which can lead to a receding gum line and tooth loss if left untreated.

Call our Middleton, WI office if you experience any of these symptoms or pain in a tooth, loss of a tooth, a broken tooth, or bad breath that does not go away with brushing.

Is sleep apnea linked to cancer? Studies say, ‘Yes’.

November 15th, 2023

Recently, multiple studies have concluded that people with sleep apnea, a disorder that causes snoring, fatigue, and dangerous gaps in breathing at night due to throat muscles collapsing, are five times more likely to develop cancer. In fact, one of the studies found that people with the most severe forms of sleep apnea had a 65 percent greater risk of developing cancer of any kind.

Researchers believe this could be due to the body lacking enough oxygen, a condition known as hypoxemia. When people are deprived of oxygen, their bodies react by producing more blood vessels, which can feed cancer cells, and as a result cause tumors to grow and spread.

Approximately 28 million North Americans suffer from sleep apnea, with many cases going undiagnosed. This is due to most cancer patients not mentioning any sleep problems they experience unless their physician asks them.

Patients at hartstone dental who suffer from sleep apnea can be treated using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which produces a stream of air to keep the upper airways open while you sleep. An oral appliance may be another option if CPAP therapy isn’t an option. If you have sleep apnea, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team will help you understand all of your treatment options, finding one that suits your needs.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, please give us a call at our Middleton, WI office to schedule an appointment.

Digital X-rays

November 8th, 2023

X-rays are a vital diagnostic tool for any dental professional. X-rays help your endodontist perform a root canal, your orthodontist check the position of a tooth’s root, your oral surgeon discover a fracture. X-rays reveal what we can’t see with the naked eye—and that’s why they are an especially important tool for Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk as well.

Why Are X-rays Necessary?

There’s a lot going on below the surface. An X-ray can reveal such conditions as cavities between teeth or underneath fillings, abscesses and other infections in the bone, impacted wisdom teeth, and cysts and tumors. They can also show the size, shape, and density of the bone beneath the teeth, which is essential information for dental implant procedures or dentures.

How Do X-rays Work?

Traditional X-rays, or radiographs, make use of film just like traditional cameras. When you have an intraoral X-ray, for example, the film is sealed in a moisture- and light-proof packet, and placed inside the mouth to capture images of specific teeth and the bone around them.

The X-ray machine is aligned precisely with the film and an exposure is taken. The image at this point is latent, and won’t show on the film, because, just like photo film, traditional radiographs need to be chemically processed before they produce a visible image.

Digital technology, on the other hand, uses an electronic sensor instead of film. For an intraoral digital X-ray, a small sensor is positioned in the mouth just like a film. When the X-ray is taken, a digital image capture device produces an image which is formed by a matrix of pixels instead of a photo-like film exposure. This format allows the image to be sent directly to a computer for immediate display without requiring processing.

Even though these methods seem very similar, digital X-rays offer some significant advantages over traditional films. Let’s look at how they compare, more or less.

  • More Diagnostic Advantages

A traditional X-ray is a fixed image. It cannot be modified or enhanced. Here the digital X-ray offers a clear advantage in diagnosis.

Just as you can enlarge certain types of images on your computer without blurring or losing detail, a digital X-ray uses computer software to magnify images while keeping their details sharp. They can also be enhanced through brightness and contrast applications to make details stand out even more. Both of these benefits are extremely helpful for diagnosis, especially when looking for small cavities, problems in the roots and surrounding bone, or developing wisdom teeth.

There is even digital subtraction radiography software available that can be used to compare recent images to older ones, removing (“subtracting”) all the similarities in the two images to display only the changes in the two—even small changes—that have taken place over time.

  • Less Exposure to Radiation

Dental X-rays expose patients to very low levels of radiation, and modern technology means traditional X-rays expose patients to less radiation than ever before. Even so, digital X-rays have significant advantages. Radiation exposure can be reduced by an additional 10%, 20%, or more with a digital radiograph.

  • More Convenient for Sharing and Transmitting

If you need to share your X-rays with another dental specialist or physician, digital technology allows you to simply have them e-mailed to another office or multiple offices. You no longer need to worry about preserving physical copies, either.

  • Less Waste

Unlike traditional X-rays, digital X-rays don’t need to be processed, so you save time in the office. And while the processing time is not significant (usually several minutes), if you need to repeat some X-rays for a clearer picture, or require different images for several teeth, this time can add up.

Digital X-rays are also more eco-friendly.  The fact that they don’t need to be developed means that the chemicals used to process traditional films are no longer necessary—which also means that there is no need to dispose of chemical waste products afterward.

Our goal is to provide you with the safest, most efficient, and most effective dental treatment possible, and digital X-rays help us do that. If you have any questions about digital X-ray technology, contact our Middleton, WI office. We’re happy to explain the science—and the benefits—of high-tech radiography.

Seven Ways to Repurpose Old Toothbrushes

November 8th, 2023

It’s done a wonderful job for you, but after three or four months, the time has come to retire your toothbrush. Bristles that once easily removed food particles and plaque have become frayed and just aren’t as effective. But now that you’re regularly changing out your toothbrush, what to do with those retired brushes besides add to the local landfill? Check out some recommendations from Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for some second career options for that old toothbrush.

Make Your Jewelry Shine

A gentle brush with your favorite jewelry cleaner and your old brush will remove dirt from small spaces and filigree that a cloth just can’t reach. Do check that brushing is safe for your jewelry—pearls, for example, are not a good candidate.

Keep Your Woodwork Dust-free

Keep the details on your wood trim dust free with an old toothbrush. Baseboards are some of the hardest places to keep clean—even vacuums have difficulty getting dust and dirt out of trim. But an old toothbrush is perfect for cleaning the top, the grooves, and the inside corners of your baseboards. You can also remove dust from around door trim and inside window tracks.

Polish Sinks and Faucets

Use a repurposed toothbrush to remove build-up where the base of your faucet meets the sink, or around levers and handles. And don’t forget the metal ring around the drain!

Clean Kitchen Gadgets

Those miniature blades in your coffee maker or blender, the tiny holes in your cheese grater, the micro-openings in your microplane—small cleaning jobs need small tools! Try an old brush the next time you have a mini-cleaning problem.

De-grease Appliances

And while we’re in the kitchen, don’t forget your appliances. A toothbrush can clean grease around dials, handles, and knobs where a sponge can’t reach.

Refresh Your Grout

There are special brushes made just for scrubbing grout, but give your old brush a try first. Use your regular cleaning solution or paste for fresh, clean grout lines on your tile floors and counters. 

Keep Your Technology Sleek

Your keyboard has a busy life and it shows! Keep the spaces between your keys dust and crumb free with a clean, dry toothbrush. The next time you’re detailing your car’s interior, try a toothbrush for cleaning around buttons and dials on your dash. And don’t forget your remote controls, or any other place where keys, knobs, and buttons collect dust.

There’s still a lot of life left in that toothbrush! If you choose to reuse, do be sure to thoroughly clean your toothbrush before it transitions to another housekeeping detail. It’s worth the effort—your old brush will prove useful in any number of new ways, and your home—and the environment—will thank you!

Energy Drinks and Your Teeth

November 1st, 2023

When working out, studying late, or any time we feel like a bit of a boost would come in handy, energy drinks are a common go-to for many teens and adults. Energy drinks promise more focus and vitality, all wrapped up in clever names and eye-catching graphic designs. What they can’t promise, though, is a drink that’s good for your dental health.

Why? Because most energy drinks come with a high concentration of caffeine, acids, and/or sugar.

  • Caffeine Consequences

Before we talk about your dental health, a word about caffeine. Too much caffeine in a short period can leave us jittery, anxious, irritable, and sleepless. A cup of coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine, and some energy drinks have three to four times that much.

While the recommended daily limit for adults who aren’t pregnant is 400 mg of caffeine, doctors suggest a much lower limit for children and teenagers. Among other reasons, sleep is especially important for developing brains and bodies, and caffeine interferes with healthy sleep.

You might have to go online to find out how various energy drinks measure up and compare in terms of caffeine, but taking the time to check them out is well worth it. Now, back to your dental health!

  • Acid Attacks

Many energy drinks are very acidic. The tart flavors of energy drinks might please your palate, but they attack your enamel.

Our mouths are their healthiest when our saliva is neutral, balanced between acidic and basic on the pH scale. That’s somewhere around a 7 on a scale of 0-14, where lower numbers mean more acidic conditions. That burning feeling we get from acid reflux when stomach acids back up? That’s because stomach acid is a 1-2 on the pH scale.  Many energy drinks rate an eye-opening (and not in an energetic way!) 1.5-3.5 on the pH scale, which means your teeth are bathing in acids.

Even tooth enamel, the strongest substance in the body, can’t stand up to these acids, because acids break down the mineral structure of your enamel. If your teeth are more sensitive to heat and cold, if they appear darker as the white outer layer of enamel thins, if your dentist has discovered weak spots in your enamel—you might be experiencing demineralization. Once enamel is gone, it can’t be replaced.

  • Surplus Sugar

A well-known source of quick energy is sugar. A little more biology and chemistry here—sugar is a food which our bodies can break down quickly. And when sugar molecules break down, this breakdown releases energy—energy which we use to fuel essential bodily functions. This quick burst of sugar energy is why many energy drinks contain lots of added sugar. Some brands have more than 60 grams of sugar per serving—and 60 grams is almost 5 tablespoons!

We get all the sugar we require for our daily energy needs from the natural sugars found in fruits, dairy, even some vegetables and grains. With added sugars, we’re just adding empty calories, affecting the balance of our blood sugar and hormones, and increasing the risk of chronic health conditions—all while providing a convenient food source for the bacteria in plaque.

Because, just like our bodies find it easy to convert sugar to energy, the oral bacteria which cause cavities find it easy to convert sugar to acids. And just like the acids in foods, these acids attack the tooth’s mineral structure and break down its strength. Eventually, the weak spots in enamel grow larger and deeper and become cavities.

While most labels don’t let you know how much caffeine you’re getting, or the pH of the liquid inside, you can see how much sugar is being added to your diet with every can or bottle. Do look for added sugars before you choose your beverages.

If you have several energy drinks a day, a soft drink or two, plus the occasional sports drink—you’re bathing your teeth in acids and sugar all day long. With any beverage high in sugars and acids, limit your consumption. Rinse with water afterward, and don’t brush for about an hour to give your enamel time to remineralize after being exposed to the acids in your drink.

Better yet, choose healthier alternatives. Water is still the best way to hydrate. Try adding protein and carbs to your diet for more energy. Make sure you’re getting the vitamins you need with a balanced diet. If you see signs of enamel erosion, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk. The temporary boost you get from a bottle of caffeine, acids, and sugar might seem tempting, but it can have long-lasting consequences for your dental health!

Beneficial Beverage or Damaging Drink?

November 1st, 2023

Talking about a healthy diet usually means talking about food. After all, our teeth and gums need protein, vitamins, and minerals to stay strong and free from cavities and gum disease. But let’s not forget the part liquids play in our diets! What we drink can actually have a dramatic effect on our dental health.

Beneficial Beverages for Our Teeth and Gums

  • Water, water, water!

Water is always a healthy option. Besides being a nutrient in its own right, water washes away food particles as we eat, dilutes the acids in our mouth that can lead to cavities, and often provides the fluoride, which reduces our risk of tooth decay. Also, water helps with the production of saliva, which cleanses our mouth and helps neutralize the acids which cause cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.

  • Milk

Milk provides the calcium and vitamin D that are essential for bone and tooth health. If you are worried about the fat content in milk, low-fat options will still deliver the nutrients your body needs.

  • Vegetable juices

These juices provide important vitamins and minerals without the sugar levels of fruit juices. If that 100%-leafy-green smoothie is a bit bitter, add a small amount of fruit to the mix, but remember to avoid too many acidic, sugary additions.

Drinks that are Less than Ideal

  • Sugary beverages

Regular soft drinks, fruit juices, energy drinks, and sweetened tea and coffee provide bacteria with the sugar they use to produce acids. These acids, over time, weaken our enamel and lead to cavities.

  • Acidic drinks

Any acidic beverages, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, or citrus juices, provide their own acids that can erode tooth enamel.

  • Drinks that stain our teeth

Red wine, coffee, black tea, fruit juices, colas—even sports drinks!—can leave our enamel stained and discolored.

Should we give up all these problem drinks completely? Can’t we start our day with orange juice and a cup of coffee, or down an energy drink after a workout? The important takeaway here is to recognize which drinks can damage teeth and gums, and to minimize any harm they might cause. If you are going to drink something sugary or acidic, don’t sip it. Sipping lets the sugars and acids linger in the mouth. Drink with a meal. Chewing increases saliva production, which helps wash away harmful sugars and acids. Try using a straw for drinks that stain teeth. And it’s always best to rinse with water immediately after drinking anything sugary, acidic, or staining.

Best of all, try to include as many nourishing beverages as possible in your diet. Keep your mouth healthy with a steady routine of brushing and flossing for at least two minutes twice a day. Don’t forget to schedule regular checkups and cleanings at our Middleton, WI office so Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can monitor your teeth and gums and remove plaque and stains if they develop. And if you have any questions about the healthiest beverages out there, let’s have a glass of water and discuss.

How do OTC whitening treatments compare to in-office whitening?

October 25th, 2023

If you are unhappy with the color of your teeth, teeth whitening may be an excellent choice for you. Many patients of Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk suffer from darkened teeth due to the natural aging process, regular consumption of coffee or tea, or nicotine staining from cigarettes.

Some people may have darkened teeth due to long-term use of medication. Certain medication-related stains on the teeth cannot be lightened, but virtually every other type of teeth stains can be effectively lightened using either professional dental whitening or at-home whitening.

While both types of whitening have benefits, at-home kits are less expensive and less effective overall. Professional teeth whitening is a highly effective option, but it requires a bit more of an investment. Here is the basic info on each type of whitening.

At-Home Whitening

At-home whitening is done in a number of different ways today. Some of the most popular options include:

  • Whitening strips that are applied to teeth and then removed after a specified period. These will typically be used once a day for at least a week.
  • Whitening gels or pastes that are placed in a one-size-fits-all plastic tray. These trays are worn, retainer style, for a set period of time once a day.
  • Whitening toothpaste, which is used daily, and whitening mouthwashes are also available today. These products require constant use to realize results.

In-Office Whitening

In-office whitening is the fastest way to achieve whiter teeth. If you want an almost immediate difference in the color of your teeth and their overall appearance, this is probably the option for you.

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will typically apply the whitening formula directly to your teeth. Following the application, we will have you relax in our office between half an hour and an hour.

Some office-whitening formulas are strengthened with the use of heat, specialized lighting, or laser application. Patients will usually notice whitening results after only one application, but it usually takes at least a few appointments at hartstone dental to notice a truly dramatic change in tooth color.

Ancient Grains for Modern Diets

October 18th, 2023

One of the latest foods in dietary news is also one of the oldest—ancient grains. What makes these old-timers so appealing to modern tastes? Let’s run down the menu!

Why Are Some Grains Called “Ancient”?

Unlike grains such as modern wheat, which have been crossbred for hundreds of years to bring out certain qualities, ancient grains are generally considered to be grains which have been cultivated in the same way and in the same form for centuries.

Not All Grains Are the Same

Grains are harvested from the seeds, or kernels, which grow on top of cereal grasses. But because they have many of the same uses, and many of the same nutrients, ancient grains also include pseudocereals, which are seeds and fruits from non-grasses. These seeds can be ground just like grains or used whole. This is an important distinction for many diet-mindful people because grains derived from pseudocereals are gluten-free.

The Health Benefits of Ancient Grains

Ancient grains are whole grains. This means that the seeds of ancient grains have their bran, germ, and endosperm intact—which means that all their nutrients, proteins, and fiber also remain intact. Refined grains like white flour and white rice have removed many of these good-for-your-body elements by removing the bran and germ, leaving only the endosperm behind.

The Dental Benefits of Ancient Grains

Of course, any food that offers better nutrition is better for your teeth and gums. But there’s an added bonus in the more complex structure of intact grains—they take more time to digest.

With foods made with refined grains, digestion starts taking place quickly—in fact, saliva starts the digestive process right in our mouths while we eat. And as these carbs break down into sugars, they provide a feast for the oral bacteria which convert that sugar into acids.

These acids, in turn, attack tooth enamel, leaving weaker spots which can grow into cavities, and irritate delicate gum tissue. What’s more, refined carbs tend to be extra sticky, lingering in the mouth, between the teeth, and on the enamel instead of being washed away by saliva.

So, Have Any Suggestions for My Shopping List?

We do! Because all ancient grains are loaded with protein and fiber, they are all going to be a rich source of these healthy essentials. And they can offer additional minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants to your diet. If you’re inspired to add a bit of history and geography to your plate, here are some ancient grains to consider:

  • Amaranth

Cultivated by the Aztecs, this gluten-free pseudocereal seed is high in manganese, magnesium, copper, phosphorus (which helps keep your enamel strong), and also provides vitamins B1 (thiamin), B6, and B9 (folic acid).

  • Barley

Grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe, barley is one of the first cultivated grains. In its whole grain form, barley offers us selenium, manganese, copper, vitamins B1 and B3 (niacin), and antioxidants. Whole barley has a very tough outer shell and takes quite a bit of cooking, so lightly pearled barley can be substituted with only a small loss of bran.

  • Buckwheat

Originating in Asia, buckwheat quickly spread to Europe and eventually made its way to early American fields. Another pseudocereal, buckwheat seed is often ground for flour, and is a good source of copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamins B2 (riboflavin), and B3. Not to mention, gluten-free!

  • Bulgur

Often used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking, bulgur is a cracked wheat cereal grain. Bulgur adds, among other nutrients, manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, and vitamins B3 and B6 to your diet.

  • Farro

“Farro” comes from an Italian word which can refer to three different varieties of wheat, with different cooking times, textures, and flavors. These grains were first cultivated in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region thousands of years ago, and are still popular today thanks to their nutty flavor and chewy texture. Try farro for a tasty serving of magnesium, zinc, vitamin B3, and antioxidants.

  • Freekeh

Common in Middle Eastern, North African, and Mediterranean cuisine, freekeh is another form of cracked wheat. It’s harvested when the plants are young, so it has extra protein and fiber, as well as being a good source of iron.

  • Quinoa

Another pseudocereal, quinoa originated in South America. It’s gluten-free, and filled with minerals such as manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin B9. It’s also a complete protein, which means it contains all nine of the amino acids our bodies can’t produce on their own.

  • Spelt

One of the largest wheat crops in Europe, and grown around the world, spelt’s nutty taste is an added bonus to its stores of manganese, copper, phosphorus, and vitamin B3.

  • Teff

The smallest of the ancient grains, teff is an African variety of millet, a pseudocereal full of nutrients such as manganese, copper, iron, and calcium (another mineral which is vital to dental health), as well as vitamins B1 and B6. Try brown teff for its naturally sweet flavor.

This is just a taste of the ancient grains available to you, with many others from around the world waiting to be harvested for your table. But you needn’t choose ancient grains to receive all the nutritional benefits of whole grains.

Brown rice, whole wheat products, corn, oats—all these common ingredients are easily available forms of whole grains. Check the grain aisle in your local market for some new ways to brighten your recipes, to increase your dietary protein and fiber, to add minerals and vitamins, and to provide some healthy alternatives to refined grains. Your body—and your teeth—might thank you!

Protect Your Enamel from Dental Erosion

October 18th, 2023

We know that the foods we eat and drink can have a definite impact on our smiles. Staining is an unhappy side effect of many of our menu favorites. That’s why we sip red wine through a straw, rinse with water after a slice of blueberry pie, and cut back on the coffee and tea after a single cup (or two—we’re not perfect!). And sugar is the fuel for cavity-causing bacteria, so we try to substitute water for soda, or replace the hot fudge sundae with grilled fruit. And we always brush carefully after indulging.

So far, so good. But while we’re saving our brilliant smiles from stains and decay, let’s not forget one other source of diet-related damage—acids. Acidic foods and beverages can actually erode the surface of our enamel, leaving our teeth more vulnerable to sensitivity and discoloration.

What Is Dental Erosion?

Enamel is the strongest substance in our bodies—stronger than bone—but it is not indestructible. And acids are one of the major causes of enamel damage. (In fact, it’s the acids produced by bacteria that lead to cavities.) Luckily, our bodies are designed to protect our enamel. Saliva helps clean the teeth by washing away food particles and it neutralizes acidity as well. But a diet that’s too heavy in acidic foods can undo all this good work and upset the healthy pH balance in our mouths.

Why is this a problem? Because acidic environments actually cause the minerals in our enamel to break down, a process known as “demineralization.” This weakening of the enamel leaves teeth more sensitive to heat and cold. It can even lead to discolored teeth, as thinner enamel allows the brownish-yellow dentin underneath the enamel surface to become visible.

Are You Aware of Acids?

We can immediately guess at some of the most acidic foods. Citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes in their many culinary forms, anything pickled in vinegar, coffee, tea, wine—these foods are certainly acidic, but also a regular part of many a healthy diet. You don’t need to avoid these foods altogether, but it’s best to enjoy them as part of a meal or enjoy them sparingly. And balance out some of these high-acidity foods at mealtime with low-acidity choices like bananas, bread, and dairy products.

Other sources of damaging acids might surprise you. Studies have linked sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks to higher levels of tooth erosion. The combination of citric acid, phosphoric acid and/or carbonation raises acidity levels in the mouth. And because we tend to sip them all day long, it’s like a continuing acid bath for our enamel. Water is always a healthy alternative for hydration, but if you do indulge in a soda or sports drink, rinse with water after drinking. And don’t swish—just swallow.

Won’t Brushing Help?

Yes, but watch your timing. Because the acids in foods weaken enamel, brushing right after a big glass of orange juice or a soda can actually be even more abrasive for tooth surfaces. We recommend waiting anywhere from 20-60 minutes to brush. This gives your saliva the chance to not only wash away acids, but to “remineralize” your teeth, bathing them in the phosphate and calcium ions that strengthen enamel.

If you notice any of the symptoms of dental erosion, including pain, sensitivity when you eat or drink something hot, cold or sweet, or yellow discoloration, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk during your visit to our Middleton, WI office about what you can do to help protect and strengthen your teeth. Unfortunately, our bodies can’t produce new enamel. By avoiding foods that stain, by reducing sugars that lead to decay, and by limiting the acidic foods that erode our enamel, we give ourselves the best opportunity for a lifetime of beautiful, healthy smiles.

In the Pink

October 11th, 2023

Our gums cover and protect the sensitive roots of our teeth and the bone around them. While we often think of gum tissue as a rosy shade of pink, that’s not a hard and fast rule. Just as skin tones vary, gum color can vary from person to person.

Healthy gums can range from light pink to darker pink to hues of brown or black. Because your gums are a good indicator of your oral health, what’s important isn’t your normal gum color, it’s noticing any changes in your normal gum color. These changes could be symptomatic of several different dental and medical conditions.

Pale Gums

  • Anemia

If the overall appearance of your gums is paler than usual, anemia is a prime suspect. Anemia is a common condition caused by a low red blood cell count. Hemoglobin in red blood cells delivers the oxygen our tissues need to function properly, and without enough, we suffer symptoms like fatigue, weakness, pallor, faintness, and rapid heartbeat.

Anemia can be caused by an underlying medical condition, or can develop because of other issues, such as iron or vitamin deficiencies, pregnancy, ulcers, certain medications, or heavy menstrual periods. If you have any of the symptoms of anemia, seeing your doctor for a blood test is a good idea.

  • Teeth Whitening

Occasionally, gums can also lighten up after a tooth whitening procedure. This is due to tissue irritation caused by the bleaching chemicals. Usually this condition is very temporary.

Ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for advice if you experience irritation after home treatments. Having your teeth whitened by a dental professional is one way to make sure your gums get the best protection possible during the process.

Red Gums

  • Inflammation

Red gums are a common symptom of gingivitis (early gum disease). Plaque and tartar irritate your gums, and gum tissue reacts to this irritation by becoming inflamed. Left untreated, gingivitis becomes periodontitis (serious gum disease), which can destroy the bone around the tooth and lead to tooth loss.

If you notice signs of gingivitis—redness, swelling, bleeding, bad breath—talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk. Often, gingivitis is easily remedied in the early stages by better attention to dental hygiene. Brushing for two minutes at least twice each day and flossing at least once a day are a good base line for keeping gum disease at bay.

  • Infection

Redness can also be caused by infection. If you’re experiencing redness, pain, loose teeth, swelling, pus, or fever, it’s important to see Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk as soon as possible in case you have an abscess or infected dental cyst. Without treatment, infection can seriously damage gum tissue, teeth, and underlying bone.

  • Over-Vigorous Brushing

Brushing too hard or using the wrong brush can cause gum irritation. Do your gums (and teeth!) a favor by using proper brushing technique—massage, don’t scrub—and always use a soft-bristled brush.

Spots of Discoloration

Sometimes you notice a patch of lighter or darker tissue that you haven’t seen before. A spot that is different from the gum tissue around it can be harmless or need further attention.

Contact our Middleton, WI office if you have any recent discoloration, sores, pain, lumps, or any differences in appearance or sensation in your mouth. There are several types of oral cancer and prompt diagnosis and treatment is important to prevent the spread of cancerous cells.

You know your smile better than anyone. Any time you see a change in the usual appearance of your gums, it’s important to see Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk. Treating gum problems before they become serious is one of the best ways to keep yourself—and your smile—in the pink of health!

Should Adults Continue Fluoride Treatments?

October 11th, 2023

Many adults wonder if they should continue to receive fluoride treatments. Our team at hartstone dental wants to set the record straight about the usefulness of fluoride treatment for adults.

There are several reasons fluoride treatments could be beneficial to you as a grownup. If you have a high risk for cavities, topical fluoride applications can cut down on that risk.

If you’re experiencing gum recession that’s softening your enamel, fluoride treatments can slow down that process. Fluoride treatments may also protect expensive restorative work on crowns or bridges that may be adversely affected by plaque.

In addition, fluoride can also protect teeth in adults who have orthodontic braces or who sometimes neglect to keep up with daily oral hygiene regimens such as flossing and using mouthwash.

Do you have sensitive teeth? Consuming foods that are highly acidic or using teeth-whitening products can lead to irritated gums. Fluoride treatments remineralize your enamel and reduce sensitivity.

If you’ve undergone radiation treatment for cancer, fluoride can help restore any dry-mouth damage that may have developed during that time. Saliva acts as a buffer against the foods we eat, and without enough of it you may be more likely to get cavities.

In general, fluoride treatments are not always necessary for adults, but they can be beneficial to your overall oral hygiene depending on your situation. If you fall into one of the general areas listed above, ask about a fluoride treatment during your next visit at our Middleton, WI office.

We can also go over your options to treat other issues you may experience in terms of your oral health. Until then, make sure to take care of your teeth properly and use toothpaste or mouthwash that contains fluoride on a regular basis.

Healthy Gums and Older Adults

October 4th, 2023

One of the most important parts of staying healthy as we grow older is being open to learning new ways of staying healthy! While worrying about braces or wisdom teeth might be a thing of the past, there are new dental concerns that come with mature years. Taking care of our gums is one way to maintain not only our dental health, but to look out for our overall health as well.

  • Periodontal disease is preventable for older adults

While gum disease is all-too-common among older adults, it isn’t really a result of the aging process itself. If you have been keeping a regular schedule of brushing and flossing (two minutes twice a day), and have been making routine visits to our office for exams and cleaning, you probably have avoided gum disease. But if you have been neglecting your dental care, gingivitis and periodontitis are conditions that only become more serious over time.

The first symptoms of gingivitis include puffy, swollen gums that may bleed easily. Persistent bad breath and changes in the bite or the fit of dentures are also indications of gum disease. As gum disease progresses it leads to periodontitis. The gum tissue pulls away from the teeth, leaving deep pockets of tissue where plaque can collect and infections can develop. Infection, left untreated, can lead to loose teeth and even bone and tooth loss.

The good news? It is never too late to treat gum disease. Most gingivitis is reversible, and modern periodontal treatment makes use of deep cleaning, antibiotics, and even gum surgery to restore gum health. Don’t let past neglect lead to future tooth loss. We are happy to see you any time to treat your gums and teeth and to let you know ways to protect them for a happy, healthy future.

What new concerns do we face as we age?

  • Our gums recede.

This natural recession can lead to the exposure of the root areas of the teeth, which are more vulnerable to cavities. It’s very important to keep up with brushing, flossing, and regular check-ups to catch potential small problems before they become big ones.

  • Old fillings and dental work can break down.

Call our Middleton, WI office any time you notice a problem with a filling, and keep up with exams, where we can pinpoint fillings that need replacement and detect cavities that can develop near the edges of old work.

  • Medications can cause side effects that affect our gums.

Some medications cause the growth of puffy gum tissue. Some can cause dry mouth, which can lead to gum disease. Always let us know about any health conditions you have or medications you may be taking. We can suggest a number of options to reduce or eliminate effects on your mouth and gums.

  • Gum health and our overall health—what’s the connection?

While no one has discovered an absolute relationship between gum disease and other health problems, there is growing evidence that higher rates of diabetes complications, heart disease, and stroke are linked to higher levels of gum disease. Make your medical and dental health a priority.

  • Smoking risks increase with age.

Studies have shown smokers have not only a greater risk of gum disease, but more severe gum disease as well. Your risk of developing oral cancer also increases with every year you smoke. It is never too late to quit! Talk to us about suggestions for breaking the habit once and for all, and be sure to keep up with regular checkups for early detection and treatment of any oral diseases caused by smoking.

Please let us know any changes that have taken place in your dental habits, medical condition, or medications. Talk to us about any periodontal concerns you may have, or the latest dental procedures we offer for gum care and treatment. We can let you know about products that can make brushing and flossing easier as you age.

It’s never too late or too early to think about taking care of yourself. We are happy to offer suggestions for maintaining or restoring your dental health that will serve you well in any chapter of your life.

Dental Emergencies while Traveling

October 4th, 2023

You’ve planned your dream vacation. Your reservations are made. You’re packed and ready. You’ve even scheduled a dental checkup at our Middleton, WI office to make sure you catch any potential problems, have finished any major work, and have an up-to-date chart.

But things don’t always go according to even the best of plans. So, what to do if you find you have a dental emergency while traveling? Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team have some recommendations for problems that might arise.

  • Toothache—Rinse your mouth with warm water and use dental floss to remove any food particles. Never put aspirin directly on a tooth or gum tissue. If the pain persists, call a dentist.
  • Cracked or broken tooth—Immediately rinse with warm water to clean the area and apply cold compresses to the face to minimize swelling. Get in touch with a dentist.
  • If you lose a tooth—Keep the tooth moist at all times. Put the tooth back in the socket without touching the root if possible. If that is not an option, place the tooth between the cheek and gums or in milk. See a dentist as soon as possible.

Know where to get help if you need it! If you are traveling in the United States, the American Dental Association offers Find-a-Dentist, a website that can locate a member dentist closest to you. If you are traveling to another country, there are steps you can take to prepare for an emergency.

  • If you are out of the country and need to locate a dentist, your local embassy or consulate, your hotel concierge, or friends abroad can be a useful resource.
  • Before you go, check your insurance to see if you are covered while traveling.
  • If you have travel insurance, find out if it covers dental treatment and can provide information on qualified local dentists and translation help, if necessary.
  • Good dental care is available in many areas internationally, but it is important to know what standards are present in the countries you plan to visit. The Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures offers a checklist for safe treatment in their “Traveler’s Guide to Safe Dental Care.”

If you have any questions, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team are happy to do all we can to answer them. While it’s unlikely that problems will arise, we are always available if you need to contact our Middleton, WI office. Bon voyage, and we look forward to hearing about your trip!

Can Superfoods Create a Super Smile?

September 27th, 2023

It’s a rare week that we don’t hear something about superfoods—those foods which will transform our diets and radically improve our health. Remember kale? All the kale? (But, more on kale later!)

So, what exactly are “superfoods”? Unfortunately, we don’t have an exact answer for you, because, while the term “superfood” sounds impressive, it really doesn’t have an exact scientific meaning. Any food which is nutritionally dense with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and/or other nutrients is often called a superfood.

Can these so-called “superfoods” help improve our dental health? The short answer: Yes! Let’s look at the benefits of some current popular superfoods, and just why they’re so good for our teeth and gums.

  • Berries

Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries are not only delicious, but a rich source of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, including vitamin C. What does this mean for your dental health? Vitamin C is essential for healthy gums. In fact, one of the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency is swollen and bleeding gums.

  • Salmon

“Good fat” seems like a dietary contradiction, but salmon is here to prove it’s possible. Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to numerous health benefits, including fighting inflammation. Research has shown a possible relationship between getting the recommended amounts of omega-3s and a reduced risk of gum disease.

  • Ancient Grains

Ancient grains are grains (and certain grasses and seeds) which have been cultivated the same way over the centuries. And even though these grains have been around for hundreds of years, many cooks are just starting to incorporate foods like quinoa, millet, farro, and freekeh into their recipes. Ancient grains are considered especially healthy because they are whole grains, with their nutrients, bran, and fiber intact. Processing grains removes many of these good-for-your-body elements.

And how does this processing affect our teeth? Whole grain carbs take time to break down and convert into the sugars which fuel our bodies. Processed grains used in foods like soft white breads and white rice start to break down quickly right in the mouth. They also tend to stick to the teeth, providing a rich supply of sugar to feed the oral bacteria which cause cavities. But you don’t need ancient grains to reap the benefits of whole grains—consider substituting whole wheat, brown rice, or whole grain corn for some of the processed grains in your diet.

  • Yogurt

Most yogurt, unlike other dairy products, contains probiotics, which help supply our bodies with healthy bacteria. Most yogurt, like other fortified dairy products, is also rich in vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for tooth health because it allows our bodies to absorb the calcium which keeps bones and teeth strong.

  • Kale

We couldn’t leave without a word about kale! Kale is everywhere on the menu, from salads to pasta to soups, added to the blender for fruit smoothies, or salted and roasted for a potato chip substitute. And kale deserves its good reputation. Kale is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, such as the beta-carotene which our bodies convert into vitamin A. Among its other benefits, vitamin A is crucial for the health and healing of mucous membranes, which include our gums and the soft membranes of the mouth.

And if you just can’t warm up to kale? More good news: dark green vegetables such as leafy greens and spinach also provide many of the same beta-carotenes. And so do colorful orange options like sweet potatoes, carrots, peppers, pumpkins, and squash.

Can these so-called “superfoods” help improve and maintain our dental health? The short answer: Yes! The longer answer: Yes—and so will any foods which are rich in the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fatty acids which support and protect our teeth and gums. Just remember, a nutritious, balanced diet is more important than any one ingredient. Want more information? Ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk when you visit our Middleton, WI office for dietary tips to help you maintain a heathy body—and a super smile!

Osteoporosis and Dental Health

September 27th, 2023

What do we know about osteoporosis? We may know that this disease makes the bones more brittle and vulnerable. We may know that osteoporosis is the cause of many a broken hip or curved spine as we age. We may even know that, for a number of reasons, women are far more likely to develop this disease. What we may not be aware of is the impact osteoporosis can have on our dental health.

“Osteoporosis” means “porous bones.” It is a disease that makes the bones more likely to fracture or break, as the body’s careful balance of absorbing old bone tissue and replacing it with new healthy bone tissue is disrupted. We lose bone tissue faster than we can create new, dense bone tissue. Why is this important for our dental health? Because the fitness of our teeth depends on the fitness of the bones surrounding and securing them in our jaws.

How does osteoporosis affect dental health?

  • Osteoporosis reduces density in the bones and bone tissue that hold our teeth in place. Studies have shown that women with osteoporosis have significantly more tooth loss than women without the disease.
  • Periodontitis, or gum disease, can also cause deterioration in the bone surrounding the teeth. This is a time to be proactive with gum health to avoid infections and further bone loss.
  • Denture wearers may find that their dentures no longer fit properly due to changes in bone structure. Bone loss needs to be addressed promptly to avoid having to replace dentures.
  • Rarely, bone-strengthening medications for osteoporosis can lead to serious jaw problems after dental procedures that involve the jawbone (such as extractions). Always tell us any medications you are taking before we schedule any dental treatment.

Unfortunately, osteoporosis often has no symptoms at all—until the first bone fracture. Checking our bone density is important as we age, and one way of discovering changes in bone density is through your regular dental checkups at our Middleton, WI office. We can pinpoint changes in your X-rays through the years and will recommend that you see your physician if there is any indication of bone loss. If you have already been diagnosed with the disease, we have ideas to help maintain the health of your teeth and bones.

Many factors can increase your chance of developing osteoporosis. Age, illness, personal habits, medications, diet, genetics—any number of conditions can affect our bone health. Talk to us about osteoporosis. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk would like to work with you to provide prevention and treatment to keep your teeth and bones strong and healthy for a lifetime of beautiful smiles. And that’s certainly good to know!

Oral Health Concerns for Teens

September 20th, 2023

You have a lot more freedom as a teenager than you did as a young child. You also have a lot more responsibilities, and one of your jobs is to take care of your teeth. Develop and maintain good dental habits now so you can have great dental health for life!

Tooth Decay

As a teenager, you risk tooth decay, or dental cavities, if you are not careful. In fact, 59% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 have at least one cavity, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our staff recommend keeping your teeth strong and healthy by brushing at least twice a day and flossing every day.

If you suspect that you have tooth decay, do not be embarrassed. Instead, ask your parents to bring you to hartstone dental to get it looked at. When you do not treat your dental cavities, they can turn into more serious problems. A severely damaged tooth may need to be treated with a root canal or even an extraction.

You can take easy steps to prevent tooth decay when you are at school or hanging out with your friends. Carry a bottle of water around with you so you can take a sip after you eat any kind of food. Choose water or milk instead of soda or sports drinks, and if you chew gum, select a sugar-free flavor.

Other Oral Health Concerns

You can probably think of many reasons why you should not smoke or use tobacco. Your oral health is another one. Tobacco gives you bad breath and stains your teeth yellow. It also increases your risk for gum disease and cancer of the mouth. Smoking even slows the speed of healing after you have dental procedures done.

Here are a few more tips that can keep your mouth attractive and healthy during your teen years.

  • Drink plenty of milk.
  • Limit candies and sugary snacks.
  • Wear a mouthguard if you play a contact sport.
  • Visit hartstone dental twice a year.
  • Reduce infections and avoid piercing your tongue and lips.

You only get one set of permanent teeth in your life, so get in the habit of taking care of them now!

Oral Cancer Facts and Figures

September 20th, 2023

Oral cancer is largely viewed as a disease that affects those over the age of 40, but it can affect all ages, even non-tobacco and alcohol users. Oral cancer can occur on the lips, gums, tongue, inside lining of the cheeks, roof of the mouth, and the floor of the mouth. Our team at hartstone dental recently put together some facts and figures to illustrate the importance of visiting our Middleton, WI office.

Our friends at the American Cancer Society recommend an oral cancer screening exam every three years for people over the age of 20 and annually for those over age 40. Because early detection can improve the chance of successful treatment, be sure to ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team to conduct an oral exam during your next visit to our Middleton, WI office.

  • Symptoms of oral cancer may include a sore in the throat or mouth that bleeds easily and does not heal, a red or white patch that persists, a lump or thickening, ear pain, a neck mass, or coughing up blood. Difficulties in chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaws are often late symptoms.
  • The primary risk factors for oral cancer in American men and women are tobacco (including smokeless tobacco) and alcohol use. Risk rises dramatically (30%) for people who both smoke and consume alcohol regularly.
  • Oral cancers are part of a group of cancers commonly referred to as head and neck cancers, and of all head and neck cancers they comprise about 85% of that category.
  • Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer among men.
  • Oral cancer is more likely to affect people over 40 years of age, though an increasing number of young people are developing the condition.
  • Death rates have been decreasing over the past three decades; from 2004 to 2008, rates decreased by 1.2% per year in men and by 2.2% per year in women, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • About 75% to 80% of people with oral cavity and pharynx cancer consume alcohol.
  • The risk of developing oral cavity and pharynx cancers increases both with the amount as well as the length of time tobacco and alcohol products are used.
  • For all stages combined, about 84% of people with oral cancer survive one year after diagnosis. The five- and ten-year relative survival rates are 61% and 50%, respectively.
  • It is estimated that approximately $3.2 billion is spent in the United States annually on treatment of head and neck cancers.

Cancer can affect any part of the oral cavity, including the lip, tongue, mouth, and throat. Through visual inspection, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team at hartstone dental can often detect premalignant abnormalities and cancer at an early stage, when treatment is both less extensive and more successful.

Please let us now if you have any questions about your oral health either during your next scheduled appointment, by giving us a call or asking us on Facebook.

Periodontal Disease Associated with Cardiovascular Risk

September 13th, 2023

We all know that brushing your teeth and flossing regularly keeps your smile sparkly and bright, but did you realize that cleaning your teeth can actually help your heart? Recent research suggests that people with periodontal disease also have a higher cardiovascular risk, which means they are more vulnerable to heart attacks or stroke. It’s probably not time to throw away those running shoes in favor of a new toothbrush, but this is an added incentive to maintain good oral hygiene.

Relationship between Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Health

In 2003, researchers from the University of Buffalo conducted analyses which suggested that patients with gum disease were also at elevated risk of cardiovascular problems. Furthermore, people with more severe cases of gum disease have even poorer heart health. Although the exact causes of this relationship remain unknown, scientists continue to explore the impact of oral hygiene on broader health.

One hypothesis is that poor oral hygiene leads to inflammation, which negatively affects the heart. Gum disease occurs when bacteria build up in the mouth, and feed off sugars found in food. These bacteria release compounds that contribute to inflammation and red, swollen gums. The same inflammatory compounds may affect the heart, increasing overall cardiovascular risk.

Protect Your Teeth, Protect Your Heart

Taking a few commonsense measures can go a long way to improving your oral health and your cardiovascular risk. Consider the following:

  • Brush twice daily, and floss at least once per day. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day cleans away the harmful bacteria that contribute to gum disease. Similarly, flossing your teeth ensures that dangerous bacteria that build up between each tooth get swept away. These simple steps are the easiest ways to reduce your risk of periodontal disease.
  • Eat healthy foods. Those sugary snacks that you love so much don’t help your teeth. Whenever possible, stick to a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. For example, grab an apple or a few celery sticks for a mid-afternoon snack, rather than indulging in that candy bar.
  • Drink water. Staying hydrated doesn’t just help your body – it also swishes bad bacteria away from your tooth and gum surface. Drinking plenty of water improves your overall oral health. It’s particularly helpful after eating a sugary or sticky snack, because water can reduce plaque buildup.
  • Visit hartstone dental. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our staff will monitor your mouth for signs of periodontal disease and can make specific recommendations to keep your mouth – and your heart – safer.

What exactly is a root canal?

September 13th, 2023

Hearing that you need a root canal can be highly intimidating. What is a root canal? It is the removal of the nerve supply from the tooth. Here, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will describe the parts of a tooth and explain the reasons for a root canal and how it is done when you visit us in our Middleton, WI office.

Your tooth is made up of many layers. The outside layer is called enamel and is made of minerals. The middle layer is dentin, which is also a calcified tissue, but less dense. The center of the tooth is called the pulp, and that hosts the nerves and blood vessels. A root canal is the removal and replacement of this center with a sterile filling.

A root canal is needed when an infection spreads to the center of the tooth. This can be from trauma (recent or previous), a cavity, a severe crack, or other compromise that causes nerve damage. An X-ray and examination are required to see if a root canal is needed. Symptoms may include but are not limited to pain, swelling, change in tooth color, and over-reaction to temperature change or pressure.

When it is time to begin, you’ll receive local anesthesia (via injection) to make you most comfortable. A rubber dam is used to isolate the tooth, while other equipment determines the nerve location and maintains a sterile working environment. All of the infected area is removed including the nerve tissue and blood vessels. Then, medicines are used to sterilize and alleviate any pain. Next is the placement of a filling material in the spot where the nerve used to be.

When your nerve and blood supply are taken away, the tooth is non-vital, or dead, and can become weak and fragile. If your tooth is badly decayed, a large portion of it will have to be removed. It is recommended to place a crown on the tooth to keep the enamel from breaking or falling apart. If you do not get a crown, you could eventually lose the tooth to more decay or infection. The tooth could also break off completely and you would have to have an extraction. The crown fits over the top of the tooth and secures it from breaking down.

A root canal saves the life of a tooth that would otherwise succumb to further infection and eventually extraction. Infection is the cause of most-needed root canals. If you are ever unsure what is happening at your appointment, don’t be afraid to ask questions so you understand the procedure completely.

Keep Those Teeth Shipshape, Matey!

September 7th, 2023

September 19th is just around the corner, and you know what that means—Aye, matey, it’s “Talk Like a Pirate Day”! Why do we have a “Talk Like a Pirate Day” and not a “Take Care of Your Teeth Like a Pirate Day”? You don’t need a treasure map to find the answers!

  • High Seas Hygiene

The toothbrush as we know it, with easy to clean nylon bristles, was invented less than 100 years ago. Even toothbrushes with animal bristles weren’t easily available until a century after pirates sailed the seas. If pirates brushed at all, they probably used rags or twigs with frayed ends to clean their teeth. And rags and twigs just can’t take care of plaque the way careful brushing and flossing can.

Two minutes brushing in the morning and two minutes at night, with careful flossing each day, will help keep your teeth as white as a chest of pearls—and healthy to boot!

  • Dastardly Diet

Pirates were a scurvy lot—literally. Scurvy is a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C, a vitamin found in fresh fruits and vegetables. One of the many unpleasant symptoms of scurvy is bleeding, swollen gums. As you can imagine, months at sea on a pirate ship provided very few chances for fresh fruit and vegetables. As a result, sailors often had to live with gum pain and even tooth loss from serious gum disease.

We now know that eating a healthy diet is a key to oral health. In fact, it was a British naval doctor who discovered that bringing oranges, lemons, and limes aboard sailing vessels prevented scurvy—but sadly for our pirate crew, this discovery happened several decades after the Golden Age of Piracy. Fortunately, you have access to a bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, and your teeth and gums will be all the better for it.

It’s not looking too good for our pirate crew, but let’s look on the bright side—even if a pirate did get a cavity or suffer gum disease, he could always see the ship’s dentist, couldn’t he?

  • Ship’s Dentist—Arrrr You Kidding?

If a pirate had a bad cavity, his best treatment option would probably be to ask a fellow pirate to pull the tooth. If a pirate needed a root canal, his best treatment option would probably be to ask a fellow pirate to pull the tooth. If a pirate had a cracked tooth, his best… well, you get the picture.

Luckily, it’s a different world today. Now we have dentists with years of education and training, modern tools and equipment, and the very best medical knowledge to treat all of our dental problems, big and small. See your dentist at least twice a year for exams and cleanings, and you will reap the bountiful rewards of regular, professional, proactive care.

Being a pirate for a day is fun. We all enjoy tales of a good treasure hunt. But you already have a treasure that most pirates could never hope to have—healthy teeth and healthy gums! And with proper care, this treasure can last a lifetime. Until next September 19th, fair winds and good checkups at our Middleton, WI office be yours, matey!

I chipped a tooth. What can I do?

September 6th, 2023

You just crunched down on a piece of hard food when you suddenly realize there is something hard still in your mouth. Your nightmare is confirmed when you retrieve a piece of your tooth from your mouth. You chipped your tooth; now what?

Obviously, the first thing you need to do is call our Middleton, WI office. While we make every effort to see emergent cases immediately, you may have to wait a day or so before you can see Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk. Luckily, it’s easy to take care of your chipped tooth while you wait.

How to Take Care of a Chipped

The last thing you want is for the tooth to become infected or break even more. Let’s look at a few things you can do:

  • If the chipped tooth is causing you pain take an over-the-counter pain medication, like Tylenol. Always follow the directions on the label.
  • You should also rinse your mouth with lukewarm saltwater, as this will help prevent an infection from setting in.
  • If your chipped tooth has a sharp edge, cover it up with a piece of wax to prevent it from cutting you cheek, tongue, or lip.
  • If you have to eat, make sure you eat soft foods and don’t bite down on the chipped or broken tooth.

Treatment Options for a Chipped Tooth

  • Dental Filling and Bonding – If you only have a small chip in your tooth, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will probably fix it with a filling. If it is a front tooth, we may bond the tooth using a tooth-colored compound.
  • Dental Crown or Cap – If you broke a large piece of your tooth, we may grind the remaining part of your tooth and put a crown or cap on it.
  • Dental Veneers – If you chipped or broke your front tooth then choosing a dental veneer may be your best choice. It will make your tooth look completely normal.
  • Root Canal – If you cracked your tooth and the center (pulp) of the tooth is exposed and infected, you will need a root canal. If the center of your tooth is exposed, it becomes vulnerable to bacteria that will cause your tooth to abscess.

Chipping or breaking your tooth is never a good thing, and you should always call our Middleton, WI office right away. The sooner you get your tooth repaired the less likely you are to have any problems with it.

Cleaning Your Teeth—Time for a Refresher Course!

August 30th, 2023

Let’s face it, by now, brushing our teeth is something we pretty much do on auto-pilot. A quick brush after breakfast, a minute or so at night, floss when we think of it. Done. But take a few minutes to review these cleaning tips, and see if a few small adjustments to your routine could make all the difference at your next checkup at our Middleton, WI office.

  • Tools

Some of us prefer brushing with a manual brush. Some like the electric brush for ease and comfort. Whichever form of brush you choose, be sure that it fits comfortably in your mouth, reaches everywhere it needs to, and has a handle that is easy to grip. There are many bristle options available, so if you are an energetic brusher, or if you have sensitive gums, try a soft bristled brush for gentler brushing.

If you haven’t been exploring the floss aisle lately, there are now many varieties available to suit your particular needs. Besides the traditional floss, there are coated flosses for easy gliding between teeth that fit closely together, dental tape-style flosses to fit teeth with wider spacing, and even flosses designed just for braces that thread between the wires and brackets. Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk at your next cleaning for product suggestions if you think there’s an easier, more comfortable option out there for you.

  • Technique

With proper technique, any toothbrush and floss you choose will do a fine job of removing plaque.

Brushing? There’s a tried and true method for success. Place the toothbrush at a 45° angle at the gum line. Be sure to brush the outside, inside, and chewing surface of each tooth thoroughly. Remember the expression, “Massage, don’t scrub.” Over-vigorous brushing can actually irritate gum tissue and damage enamel. An electric toothbrush should provide a continuous brushing motion without needing any pressure from the brusher. This might be the model for you if you have a too-vigorous approach to brushing, or sensitive teeth and gums. If you like your manual brush, again, give a soft-bristled brush a try!

As for flossing? That harmless-looking little string can cause gum damage if used too forcefully. You can accomplish the placement and cleaning power you need by easing the floss down to the gumline and flossing with gentle pressure against the tooth surface. If you have any questions about technique, remember—we are always happy to let you know the best cleaning methods for your specific needs.

  • Timing

Of course, the best tools and the best technique in the world won’t be effective unless you put the right amount of time into brushing and flossing.

The standard rule is two minutes of brushing in the morning and two minutes at night. If you wear braces or have other special circumstances, we might recommend brushing after every meal. And if you brush after breakfast, give your teeth half an hour or so to remineralize. This natural process uses the calcium and phosphate ions in your saliva to strengthen tooth enamel after it’s been exposed to any acidic foods in your breakfast.

Thorough flossing can be accomplished in a few minutes, and might be needed only once a day. But again, depending on your individual needs, we might have other recommendations. Let’s review what works for you at your next visit—we can tailor suggestions for a brushing routine to your unique needs.

It’s a great idea to review your brushing habits periodically to make sure you are getting the most out of those minutes you spend cleaning your teeth. There won’t be a test at the end of this review, and you won’t get a gratifying grade or a gold star. What you will get is much more important—better checkups, fewer cavities, and healthy teeth and gums. Happy cleaning!

Let’s Talk About Fluoride

August 30th, 2023

So much of parenting is a balancing act. Making sure your child has enough play time and enough nap time. Crafting meals that are both healthy and appealing. Making sure every dental product you use is both effective and safe.

While Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team can’t recommend the perfect bedtime story, or tell you why your child just won’t go for that delicious steamed broccoli, we are more than happy to discuss the very best ways to promote healthy, strong teeth. Should fluoride toothpaste be part of your child’s dental routine? For many good reasons, the answer is yes.

Why Fluoride is Important

Our enamel is the strongest substance in our bodies, with the highest concentration of minerals, but it is not indestructible. The bacteria that live in our mouths create acids which attack our enamel. Weakened enamel leads to cavities. Fluoride is a mineral that makes the enamel surface more resistant to these acids, and can actually help our enamel repair itself in a process called “remineralization.” Fluoride helps prevent cavities and makes teeth stronger, and those are benefits that will last your child a lifetime.

Can There Be Too Much of a Good Thing?

Fluorosis is a condition that can sometimes develop when a child has been exposed to too much fluoride while the adult teeth are developing below the gum line. (Around the age of eight, children’s teeth have finished forming and are not at risk.) Fluorosis is not a disease, and doesn’t harm teeth, but can lead to faint streaks in the enamel. While this streaking is usually white and subtle, it can sometimes be darker and more noticeable. Teeth discolored by fluorosis can be treated cosmetically, but prevention is always the best option.

Finding the Perfect Balance

Talk to us about using fluoride toothpaste when your baby’s first teeth start arriving. If a very young child is at risk for tooth decay, we might recommend early use of fluoride toothpaste. And for these small children, younger than the age of three, a small smear of paste (about the size of a grain of rice) is sufficient if needed. Swallowing fluoride products increases the risk of fluorosis, so make sure to use a very small amount of paste.

Because young children can’t understand the concept of rinsing and spitting, you always want to make sure the amount of toothpaste you use is age-appropriate even as they get older.  From ages three to six, a pea-sized dab of toothpaste is enough. Children should not use fluoride rinses or supplements unless recommended, and should be monitored to make sure they spit out fluoride toothpaste or rinses after brushing.

Most drinking water already has natural levels of fluoride, which normally aren’t a problem. If you are concerned about high fluoride levels in your local water, talk to us. If your water has higher levels of fluoride than normal, you can minimize consumption when your baby is young by breastfeeding, using non-fluoridated water for mixing with formula powder or concentrate, or buying prepared formula. If your child is a toddler, don’t add fluoride rinses or supplements unless they are recommended by a dental or medical professional.

Talk to us during your visit to our Middleton, WI office about protecting your child’s teeth. We are happy to help you find just the right amount of fluoride to keep young smiles stronger and more resistant to tooth decay. Healthy teeth in a beautiful smile—that’s a perfect balance!

Dental Insurance Benefits

August 24th, 2023

Dental insurance can be a great addition to your health care plan, but the way benefits are calculated can also make it a confusing one. If you have dental insurance, you might be wondering how you can make the most of your benefits. Let’s look at some of the important things to remember about taking advantage of your dental insurance.

  • Know Your Benefits

Figuring out what insurance will and won’t pay for, what percentage of a procedure is covered, what the insurance company considers an allowable fee, when you have covered your deductible for the year—these calculations are often bewildering. It’s helpful to call our office and check with your insurance provider to learn the final cost of any treatment, and how much, if any, will be covered by your insurance.

  • Use Your Benefits

Don’t lose benefits you have paid for! If you have not used your benefits, the time to do so is before the end of the insurance period (which may or may not be the end of the calendar year). When your dental plan re-starts, you will be paying for these unused benefits all over again. Similarly, if you have used your insurance and covered your deductible for the year, it makes sense to schedule your appointments before a new year brings a new deductible amount you will have to meet.

If you qualify for a certain number of preventive services such as check-ups and cleanings, you should always take advantage of this benefit—not only to find possible dental problems, but to prevent them.

And, if you have set up a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to cover medical and dental expenses for the year, be sure to use the money in the account or you might lose it at the end of your year’s coverage. Many dental procedures are covered by an FSA—talk to our Middleton, WI team and your provider for details.

  • Possible Tax Deductions

If you are paying for your own dental insurance, you might be able to take advantage of the deduction for medical and dental premiums and expenses on your taxes. If your employer pays for your insurance, if you take the standard deduction, or if you spend less than a certain proportion of your income on health costs, these expenses are most likely not deductible. Be sure to check with your tax preparer or with the IRS for latest information on dental and medical deductions.

Finally, you should never put off urgent dental work because of insurance considerations. At the same time, you should be able to take full advantage of any dental insurance plan you have purchased, because you deserve to get every benefit you have paid for. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team are here to help you work with your insurance company in any way we can. Our goal is the same as yours—insuring dental health for you and your family!

Proper Brushing Techniques

August 23rd, 2023

Brushing your teeth properly removes the food particles and bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. However, you do not want to scrub your teeth or gums heavily. A heavy hand can lead to tooth and gum erosion, as Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our staff see all too often.

You should also use a soft bristle toothbrush to avoid damaging the surface of your teeth. Make sure the head of the brush fits in your mouth, because if it is too large you will not be able to reach all tooth surfaces. Follow these steps to ensure you are brushing properly.

  1. Use a small amount of toothpaste on your brush. The recommendation is a pea-sized amount or thin strip on the bristles.
  2. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the surface of your teeth, angling towards your gums. Use a circular motion on all exterior tooth surfaces, and avoid back-and-forth “scrub” brushing.
  3. Once you have cleaned the outer surfaces, hold the brush vertically and clean the inner teeth surfaces — the side of your teeth that face your tongue. Do not forget the inner surfaces of your front teeth.
  4. Finally, finish by cleaning all the chewing surfaces of your teeth. You need to maintain a gentle touch, but make sure you get into the full depth of your molars. The entire process should take about two minutes.

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our staff recommend changing your toothbrush every three to four months for best results. Do not forget to clean your tongue, which helps remove excess bacteria from your mouth. Special brushes are available just for cleaning your tongue, and they are easy to use.

Proper care of your teeth also requires flossing on a regular basis. Flossing can be performed before or after you brush. Following up with a quality mouthwash will provide you with even more protection. Do not be afraid to ask the hartstone dental team for tips on proper brushing and flossing.

Dental Sealants for Baby Teeth?

August 16th, 2023

Perhaps you’ve heard your friends talking about dental sealants, and how well they prevent cavities. And as soon as your child’s permanent molars come in, you absolutely plan to make an appointment at our Middleton, WI office for this treatment. But should you also be concerned with your child’s baby teeth? Could they benefit from sealants too?

Even though those beautiful baby teeth are going to be replaced with permanent teeth, they should still be protected. Primary teeth help with speech development, enable your child to develop proper chewing and eating habits, and serve as place holders so that permanent teeth can erupt in the correct place. That’s why you’ve been so careful to help your child brush and floss twice daily, and make regular visits to our office for exams and cleanings.

But some teeth are just harder to keep clean with regular brushing than others. Primary molars, just like permanent ones, have depressions and grooves on the chewing surfaces. These grooves collect bacteria and food particles that are hard for bristles to reach, providing a perfect opportunity for cavities to develop in those little molars.

Cavities are not the only problem which can affect primary teeth. Because baby teeth have thinner layers of protective enamel, a cavity can actually reach the pulp (the center of the tooth) more quickly, leading to pain and potential infection.

While baby teeth can be treated, with fillings, restorations, and even stainless steel crowns, preventing tooth decay is always our first, best choice. And dental sealants are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association as one of the most effective ways to prevent cavities in both baby teeth and adult teeth.

Dental sealants are safe and effective.  Sealants are thin coatings (usually a plastic resin or other dental material) that cover a molar’s grooves and depressions, making it impossible for bacteria and food particles to collect there. Applying them is a simple, pain-free process.

Each tooth will be examined first. If we find any signs of decay starting, we will gently treat that area before applying the sealant. After the tooth is cleaned and dried, an etching solution will be brushed on to the surface area being sealed. This etching roughens the surface so that the sealant will hold to the tooth more effectively. A thin coat of the sealant is then painted on and hardened under a curing light.

That’s all there is to it! Sealants typically last from three to five years, and some last even longer. Keep up your regular careful brushing and flossing, and we will monitor the condition of the sealants at each exam.

Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about dental sealants. We’ll let you know if your child can benefit from the procedure even before those baby teeth give way to permanent ones. It’s never too early to prevent tooth decay!

Things You Should Know Before Getting an Oral Piercing

August 16th, 2023

Have you been thinking about getting an oral piercing lately? It could seem enticing because they look trendy or cool, but it’s worth know the health risks associated with oral piercing. Even if you already have one, you may learn a few things you didn’t know.

The human mouth contains millions of bacteria. Even without piercings, it’s not uncommon for people to develop an infection every once in a while. By adding an oral piercing, you increase your likelihood of getting an infection.

Many people who have piercings tend to develop the habit of touching them regularly, which is the like opening a door and yelling, “Welcome home, infections!” And because these piercings are in your mouth, particles of all the food that comes through can accumulate and eventually cause a pretty serious health situation.

It’s hard to ignore the presence of an oral piercing, so biting or playing with the site is fairly common. Doing so can lead to teeth fractures, however. While a fracture might be on the enamel of a tooth and require a simple filling, it can also go deeper, which could entail a root canal or even tooth extraction.

Other risks include hindering your ability to talk and eat, nerve damage, gum damage, and even loss of taste.

If you’re still determined to get an oral piercing, at least be aware of the time it will take to heal. It can take anywhere from four to six weeks, and can cause great discomfort during that time. Be willing to give it that time in order to lower your chances of infection.

Make sure you understand that getting an oral piercing will involve adding further responsibility to your daily dental health duties. It’s essential that you commit to regular upkeep on your end, and not just while it’s healing.

How Sleep Apnea Can Affect Your Waking Life

August 9th, 2023

We all know that sleep apnea causes many a difficult night. Noisy snoring, gasping for breath, and waking up dozens of times a sleep cycle are the unhappy consequences of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). What you may not realize is that sleep apnea can make your days just as challenging.

Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by an obstructed airway. The throat muscles may relax as you sleep and make it impossible to inhale fully with each breath. Or you may have a physical condition such as a deviated septum, enlarged tonsils or excess throat tissue that blocks the free passage of air into your lungs. As a result, you stop breathing for a short time and often choke or gasp for breath. Your body responds by waking every time you need to start breathing properly again, and this can happen dozens of times each hour you are asleep. The result is that, while you may think you have slept through the night, you have never gotten the deep sleep your body needs to restore itself.

How can sleep deprivation affect our daytime hours? You might find yourself suffering from any of these problems:

  • Constant drowsiness
  • Falling asleep at work or while driving
  • Headaches every morning
  • Sore throats
  • Dry mouth (which can lead to gum and dental problems)
  • Memory and attention problems
  • Moodiness or depression
  • Decreased libido

As if these reasons weren’t cause enough to find a solution to your sleeping disorder, the longer term results of sleep apnea can be devastating. High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, dangerous responses to medication or general anesthesia, a higher risk of accidents, and many other serious consequences have been linked to sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea doesn’t just ruin your night. If you suffer from any of the daytime problems listed above, please give our Middleton, WI office and your doctor a call. If obstructive sleep apnea is the cause, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can work with you to find a solution that will improve your quality of life 24 hours a day.

Periodontal disease; I have what?!

August 9th, 2023

Our team from hartstone dental understands the diagnosis of periodontal disease can be scary and confusing, but the good news in most cases is that it is treatable and manageable with a little work on the part of the patient.

Periodontal disease is an infection of the gum tissue, bone, and supporting structures for the teeth. In the past it was known as pyorrhea. Diagnosis is commonly made through a combination of dental X-rays, periodontal readings (called probe depths), and visual clinical findings.

The mouth is a gateway to the rest of the body and can provide clues to the patient’s overall health. In fact, the first signs of some chronic diseases appear in the oral cavity; they can be a hint for the dentist to refer the patient to a medical doctor for a thorough exam.

If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to premature tooth loss, sensitivity, and chronic or acute mouth pain. If you have diabetes, you are more prone to periodontal disease and can experience greater difficulty controlling your blood glucose levels. The body ends up spending so much energy fighting the infection in the mouth that it cannot achieve balance elsewhere. Studies have shown that once periodontal disease is treated, the glucose levels become more responsive to control as well.

Standard treatments can include scale and root planing, medicated mouth rinse, and in some cases antibiotic therapy or laser therapy to help control bacteria while promoting healing. Periodontal disease can range from a few localized pockets to extensive and severe infection that may require surgery.

The process of scale and root planing may entail two to four appointments for treatment, with follow-up maintenance exams every three to four months to help prevent the spread of disease. In most cases you will be numbed for comfort during the procedure. After treatment you may feel a little sore—but you are taking steps to improve your health!

Scheduling an appointment with the Middleton, WI office of Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will give you an accurate diagnosis and a range of treatment options. Periodontal disease is “silent,” which means you will not always experience pain as a signal of infection. When caught early and subjected to proper oral hygiene care on a daily basis, treatments are usually successful.

Taking Charge of Your Dental Health

August 2nd, 2023

Now that you’re a teenager, you have a lot more responsibility and independence. Choosing high school classes and electives. Getting a driver’s license. Landing your first job. And those new responsibilities extend to your dental health as well.

  • Mouthguards

If you have a mouthguard for sports or athletic activities, wear it! Whether you have an over-the-counter device or a custom fabricated guard, it won’t do you any good hiding in your locker. A mouthguard cuts down on tooth and facial injuries caused by falls, physical contact, or other accidents that might happen in your active life. And if you wear braces, ask about a mouthguard designed to fit around them. These custom devices protect your braces and your mouth.

  • Gum Health

Part of adolescence is adapting to all the changes your body is going through. But an increased chance of gingivitis, perhaps caused by hormonal changes, is not something you want to adapt to. You might suspect you have gingivitis, or early gum disease, if your gums are swollen, red, bleeding, or easily irritated. Let us know about your concerns. With proper dental care (brushing, flossing, cutting down on sugars and carbs), your gums will be healthy again in no time.

  • Wisdom Teeth

Your teen years might be the time that your wisdom teeth make their appearance. We could discover them at one of your visits, or you may suddenly notice new teeth emerging behind your molars. If there’s room for your wisdom teeth and they are erupting (coming in) without problems, you might be good to go. But if there’s no room, or if you have pain or infection, or if they are causing damage to the teeth next to them, extraction might be necessary. Talk to us about all your options.

  • Tobacco

You’re making decisions now that will affect the rest of your life. Don’t start using tobacco products, or if you’ve started, stop before it becomes even more addicting. Quitting tobacco is one of the best decisions you will make for your health—and this includes your dental health. Studies have shown that smokers and other tobacco users suffer much higher rates of oral cancer, serious gum disease, and early tooth loss. Set yourself up for decades of better health!

Finally, remember that sticking with your dental routine—two minutes of brushing morning and night and thorough flossing each day—will keep your gums and teeth healthy throughout your teen years. And, if you have any questions about your dental health in general, or a specific dental concern, give our Middleton, WI office a call! We’re here to work with you for a lifetime of beautiful smiles.

Need Another Reason to Stop Biting Your Nails?

August 2nd, 2023

Painful nails and cuticles, ruined manicures, reluctance to shake hands—there are so many good reasons to overcome the nail biting habit. But did you know that biting your nails is also bad for your dental health? Let’s look at a few more reasons to give our nails a break.

  • Bacteria Bonanza

It’s a vicious—and unhealthy—circle. Nail biting leads to injuries to the nails, cuticles, and skin surrounding the nails. These broken, jagged nails can now cause injury to delicate gum tissue. And to make things worse, fingernails harbor a lot of germs and bacteria, leading to the risk of illness and oral infections.  At the same time, bacteria from our mouths can get into the area around the injured nail, potentially leading to painful infections in the fingers.

  • Bruxism

Studies have indicated that nail biters have a greater risk of bruxism. Bruxism, better known as tooth grinding, can lead to a number of serious problems over time. Grinding and even clenching teeth on a regular basis can cause chronic headaches, worn enamel, fractured teeth, broken dental restorations, receding and inflamed gums, and loose teeth.

  • Breakage & Bad Bites

Your nails suffer obvious breakage, clearly, but your teeth are also at risk. The constant pressure of nail biting can lead to cracking, chipping, and erosion in the front teeth. Further, the pressure put on your teeth can even move them out of alignment, leading to bite problems. As you can imagine, nail biting has an even greater impact if you are wearing braces, because those teeth are already under pressure.

Why do we bite? Nail biting, or onychophagia, is a habit often started in childhood. Some people quit on their own as they reach adulthood, but for others, it can be a lifelong and painful habit. The explanations for nail biting are many: some researchers regard the habit as a form of compulsive behavior, others believe it to be a grooming impulse gone haywire, still others think it’s a way that we respond to anxiety or other stresses.

Whatever the cause, if you want to break the habit, you have options. There are over the counter polishes that use an unpleasant taste to deter biting. Learning to recognize triggers such as stress or boredom can help you choose a different response, such as snapping a rubber band around your wrist or gripping a stress ball. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can recommend some techniques for modifying this behavior. And finally, we can offer you suggestions for quitting, or even customize a mouthguard at our Middleton, WI office to discourage nail biting and prevent the problems that come with bruxism.

It’s never too late to quit. If nail biting has become more than a cosmetic problem, let’s work on a solution. Healthy, attractive nails are a great goal to work toward, but nothing beats a beautiful, healthy smile!

Healthy Gum, Healthy Mouth

July 26th, 2023

“Shouldn’t that be healthy gums,” you’re thinking? And, of course, you’re correct. Healthy gums are extremely important not only for our dental well-being, but for our overall physical health.

But that’s a subject for another blog! Today, we’re talking about healthy gum—chewing gum, that is. Because choosing the right chewing gum can actually improve your dental health.

Oral bacteria use the foods we eat, especially sugars and simple carbs, as fuel to produce acid. These acids attack our tooth enamel, gradually weakening the minerals in the tooth surface and allowing cavities to develop. Clearly, we want to reduce these acids to help prevent decay. Luckily, our bodies have a natural defense against acid attacks—saliva.

Saliva works to protect our enamel in three ways:

  • It helps neutralize and wash away acids in the mouth.
  • It rinses away the food particles which bacteria feed on.
  • It strengthens teeth by providing the necessary minerals our enamel needs to “remineralize” after acids have weakened the tooth surface.

Studies have concluded that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minute after a meal can help prevent cavities. Why? Because chewing gum increases saliva production. You are actually reducing the effects of harmful acids, washing food particles away from your teeth, and strengthening weakened enamel with every stick! Some artificial sweeteners are even thought to inhibit the growth of the bacteria that lead to decay.

With all that in mind, it’s also healthy to know when you shouldn’t chew gum:

  • When the gum contains sugar. Even with an increase in saliva production, bathing your teeth in sugar as you chew does your enamel no favors!
  • When you wear braces. Gum can stick to your brackets and between your brackets and your wires. And while trying to clean gum from your appliance is no one’s idea of fun, an even more unpleasant possibility is the chance that gum might bend your wires out of shape. Sugarless gum is not quite as sticky as regular gum, but before you open that first pack, check with your orthodontist to see if you might be putting your orthodontic work at risk.
  • When you have jaw problems such as TMD, TMJ or other temporomandibular concerns, or if you develop jaw pain while chewing gum.
  • You should never give gum to a child too young to understand that it should not be swallowed. Beyond acting as a choking hazard, continual gum swallowing can lead to diarrhea, blockages, abdominal pain and other serious problems. Talk to your Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about the right age for chewing gum.

While chewing sugarless gum has the potential to improve dental health, remember it should never take the place of regular brushing and flossing—still the best way to prevent cavities at home. Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about the possible benefits of sugarless gum at your next visit to our Middleton, WI office, and we can make recommendations based on your individual dental history. Because whether it’s healthy gums or healthy gum, we’re here to help.

Make Tooth Brushing Fun

July 26th, 2023

The best brushing routine for parent and child is two minutes of gentle brushing in the morning and two in the evening. But if the longest four minutes of your day are spent helping your child brush and floss, here are some suggestions for making that time fly.

Options!

Children’s brushes come in a wonderful variety of colors, patterns, and shapes. Allow your child to choose a favorite the next time you go shopping for dental supplies. Just make sure to choose a soft bristle brush with a head designed for small mouths. And since toothbrushes generally wear out after three months, your child will have plenty of opportunities to pick and choose! You might also explore the many flavors of children’s toothpaste to find the one that your child finds most appealing, and let your young brusher squeeze out a dab on that new brush.

Reward Daily Brushing

You don’t have to go to great lengths to make your son or daughter feel rewarded for a job well done. Allowing children to pick out a story for you to read or posting colorful stickers on a calendar sheet will encourage them to get into the habit of brushing.

Two-Minute Countdown

Time seems to go faster when we’re having fun. Your child might enjoy listening to songs or stories for the two minutes of brushing time. You can make your own playlist, invent a story starring your child, or make use of one of the dental apps that offer children’s music, videos, and stories in perfect two-minute segments.

Do It Together

Spend these two minutes twice a day with your child. You will be doing all the brushing at first, of course, but as your children get older, brush your teeth along with them. You can model proper brushing techniques for cleaning teeth, gums and tongue, and even let your child have a chance to brush your teeth for a change.

Don’t Forget Checkups!

Scheduling checkups and professional cleanings at our Middleton, WI office is vital to maintaining your child’s oral health. And, if your son or daughter is keeping up with good hygiene at home, these visits should be a breeze!

The habits your child develops now will be the foundation for a lifetime of oral health. Make these four minutes a day count. And if you can create ways to make them fun, those four minutes will fly by for both of you!

Does Your Filling Need Replacing?

July 19th, 2023

No matter how wonderfully something works for us, there comes a day when a replacement might be necessary. This holds true whether it’s the latest and greatest smart phone, or your perfectly prescribed eyeglasses, or your discreet and comfortable dental filling.

Wait, dental filling?

It’s true! While most dental fillings will last for many trouble-free years, there might come a time when a replacement is in order. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Obvious Damage

Your teeth are under a lot of stress. The forces of biting and chewing place hundreds of pounds of pressure on teeth and jaws. And if you grind your teeth, your teeth are really getting a workout. What’s true for your teeth is true for your fillings. Over time, fillings can break down after years of this constant pressure.

If you notice a filling has become loose, or is cracked, or is pulling way from the edges of the tooth, give your dentist a call! A timely replacement can prevent decay from forming under the filling. Which leads us to . . .

  • Pain in a Filled Tooth

When a filling is damaged, it no longer protects the dentin and pulp inside the tooth as effectively.

Why? Because your toothbrush can’t reach beneath your filling—but cavity-causing bacteria can. This means that cavities can develop underneath a filling that’s loose or damaged. Hidden decay will eventually progress into the pulp area of the tooth, which could lead to infection, root canal treatment, or even extraction.

If you’re suffering from pain or sensitivity in or around a tooth, it’s important to see your dentist right away to rule out hidden decay or other serious conditions.

  • Cosmetic Concerns

Composite resin fillings are often used on front teeth because they can be carefully color-matched to our enamel for an almost invisible restoration. Over time, though, you might discover your composite filling has become quite a bit more visible.

Just like our enamel, composite fillings can become stained over time from foods like coffee and red wine, and from smoking. Does a discolored filling need replacement? If the filling is damaged, or if decay is present, yes. If the problem is surface cosmetic staining, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk might be able to restore the original color of your filling with polishing. If you’re concerned about the color of your filling, talk to us about all of your options.

  • Your Dentist Recommends Replacement

Part of each dental examination includes checking the condition of your restorations. If we notice a loose or damaged filling, or find decay beneath a filling, it’s time for a replacement.

You have more options that ever before when it comes to dental fillings. Gold fillings and silver amalgam fillings last from ten to 15 years or even longer, and are capable of withstanding chewing pressure and filling larger cavities. Composite fillings, although they might not last quite as long, are almost unnoticeable and perfect for visible teeth. Your dentist will recommend the filling which is best suited for your needs.

If you wait to replace a cracked or compromised filling, you’re taking a chance with the health of your tooth. Dental fillings provide years of durable, comfortable wear—but if it’s time for a replacement, don’t hesitate to call our Middleton, WI dental office for an appointment.

Is sedation dentistry right for me?

July 19th, 2023

At hartstone dental, we are well-aware of the 25 million Americans who fear having to visit the dentist. Dental phobias are known to range anywhere from feeling mildly nervous to experiencing sweaty palms and even a racing heartbeat upon entering a dentist’s office. This anxiety can sometimes be so severe that it prevents people from visiting a dentist for years, postponing dental procedures that often result in costly problems down the road.

For those of our patients who have dental anxiety or dental phobia, it may be time to look into sedation dentistry, a safe and effective option for patients who are anxious or afraid, have a bad gag reflex, limited jaw opening, or for those who have a difficult time getting numb.

Sedation dentistry, a term that we use to refer to the use of anesthesia during treatment to put patients into a relaxed state, comes in many forms of sedation, from simply easing anxiety, to “conscious sedation,” which places patients in what we call a “twilight sleep.” Sedation dentistry at our Middleton, WI office allows our patients to drift through their appointments—including complex dental work—as well as feel completely relaxed throughout their visits, without any discomfort or pain. Sedation dentistry can turn a nerve-wracking visit into a comfortable and enjoyable one.

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team will be more than happy to discuss any concerns, issues, or fears you may have before or during your visit, and will be able to tell you if you are a candidate for sedation dentistry.

By talking with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about sedation dentistry, you can feel more comfortable and relaxed during your next visit to hartstone dental. Give us a call today!

How Often Should You Have Your Teeth Cleaned?

July 13th, 2023

That’s a good question! But first, we’re going to do that roundabout thing where we consider other questions before circling back to our original topic. Trust us, we’ll get there!

  • Why Get Your Teeth Cleaned Professionally?

Before you consider how often to have your teeth cleaned, you might be wondering why you need to have them cleaned professionally at all. After all, you’re doing all the right things. You brush twice a day for two minutes each time. You floss at least once a day. You even use a soft-bristled brush to protect your enamel. Shouldn’t this be good enough?

Conscientious dental hygiene at home is a very good thing, but, when it comes to plaque and tartar, it might not be good enough. Plaque, especially between the teeth and along the gum line, is easy to miss. In a matter of days, that overlooked plaque hardens and becomes tartar. While you can do a lot to remove food particles and plaque at home, once plaque hardens into tartar, a professional cleaning is necessary to remove it safely.

  • Why Worry About Plaque and Tartar You May Have Missed?

Because you want to avoid cavities and gum disease. You know that the bacteria in plaque cause tooth decay, but did you know that plaque and tartar can be a real problem for your gum health as well? Plaque and tartar irritate delicate gum tissue, causing inflammation and gingivitis (mild gum disease). If you have chronic bad breath, if your gums are swollen, red, or painful, if your gums bleed easily when you’re brushing and flossing, you might have gingivitis.

Left untreated, mild gum disease can become periodontitis, a more serious condition. Irritation and inflammation cause gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, forming deep periodontal pockets where bacteria and infection spread. Infection and inflammation response damage the bone and tissue supporting the teeth, and teeth become loose or lost altogether. In fact, periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

A professional cleaning at our Middleton, WI is one of the preventive steps you can take to reduce your risk of gum disease.

  • What Happens During a Cleaning?

First, your teeth and gums will be checked carefully to see if there are any problems that we need to address before the procedure begins.

The first step in cleaning usually involves removing plaque and tartar. This may be done with an ultrasonic scaler, a hand scaler, or a combination of both. Plaque and tartar need to be scraped from tooth enamel above and below the gum line to prevent cavities and gum disease, so this is definitely a job for a dental professional. Gum attachment around the teeth will be checked, and shallow pockets will be cleaned. Your dentist will have suggestions if you have deeper periodontal pockets caused by gum disease.

After all the plaque and tartar have been removed, your teeth will be polished with a gentle abrasive to remove surface stains. There are two common methods of polishing: applying a special gritty toothpaste with a small rotating cup, or air polishing, which uses a stream of fine abrasive powder, water, and pressurized air. (If you have your teeth cleaned more than twice a year, your dentist will let you know if polishing is advisable during every visit.)

Next, flossing. A professional flossing will remove any remaining plaque from between the teeth. This is a good time to double check your own flossing technique and ask for any tips which will make your personal flossing more effective.

Finally, after rinsing, a fluoride treatment might be applied to strengthen your enamel, and you’re good to go. The entire process usually takes between 30-60 minutes.

  • So, How Often Should You Have Your Teeth Cleaned?

That is a good question, and we did get there! But we don’t have just one answer for you. As with every aspect of your dental care, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will recommend cleaning treatments and procedures with your specific dental needs in mind.

  • If your teeth and gums are healthy, and you don’t have periodontal disease or risk factors for periodontal disease (such as smoking, a family history of gum disease, or medical conditions such as diabetes), you might be able to get by with two cleanings each year.
  • If you have a history of periodontal disease, or are at higher risk for periodontal disease because of one or more risk factors, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk might recommend more than two cleanings each year.

Professional cleanings play an important role in your preventive dental care. Whether it’s done once a year, twice annually, or more often as needed, a cleaning performed by a dental professional takes only a short amount of your time and provides you with long-term benefits—not only a brighter smile, but healthier teeth and gums!

Camping Oral Health Tips

July 12th, 2023

If your idea of camping is a quiet walk through the woods before returning to your rustic hotel, your regular brushing habits will be perfect for your trip. But if you are hiking into the mountains with your tent, backpack, and camp food, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team have some suggestions to adapt your dental routine to the great outdoors.

Water

If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t brush with it! Use bottled water if you have brought it, or make sure the local water is safe by using a testing kit. Boiling, filters and purification tablets are all ways to make sure the water tests clean and safe.

Toothpaste

You aren’t the only one in the woods who finds your toothpaste tasty. Bears, raccoons, and other animals are attracted to the scent of your toothpaste, so keep it safe with the same kind of tightly sealed, odor-proof container that you keep your food in. And if you want to discourage unwanted visitors, don’t spit your toothpaste out at your campground! It’s better to go some distance from your site and bury any paste, and best of all to spit used toothpaste into a container that can be tightly closed and removed from the campsite when you head for home. This practice protects you and the environment as well, since toothpaste can be harmful to small animals and plants.

Toothbrush

While there are disposable and camping toothbrushes available, a regular toothbrush will work as well. Normally, air-drying is the healthiest option for drying your toothbrush, but camping is an exception. Just as animals are attracted to toothpaste, they are also attracted to your toothpaste-scented toothbrush. Keep it in a sealed container that is odor-proof.

Floss

There are websites devoted to the many ingenious ways to use dental floss while camping, but we recommend the original use. Don’t forget to floss regularly, keep it in a sealed container, and do be sure to take used floss out of the area with you.

Even though you are roughing it, stick with your home routine as much as possible. If you are unable to brush as usual, rinse your mouth well with clean water and brush when you can. Have a great trip, and just one more thought—maybe go easy on the s’mores. Let us know all about your trip during your next visit to our Middleton, WI office!

Do adults need fluoride treatments?

July 5th, 2023

Many dentists and hygienists recommend fluoride treatments for their adult patients. You might ask yourself, “Do I really need a fluoride treatment? I thought those were just for my kids.” After all, most insurance plans cover fluoride treatments only up to the age of 18.

What you need to know as a dental consumer is that studies have shown topical fluoride applications performed by a dental professional create a significant benefit for adults who have moderate to high risk for cavities.

There are several circumstances that warrant extra fluoride protection among adults. Many prescription medications reduce saliva flow or otherwise create dry mouth. A reduction in saliva increases cavity risk.

Adults often experience gum recession, which exposes part of the root surface of teeth. These areas are softer than the hard enamel at the top of the tooth, which makes them more susceptible to decay.

In addition, adults often get restorative work such as crowns or bridges. Fluoride can help protect the margins of these restorations, ultimately protecting your investment.

Today many people opt for orthodontic treatment (braces) as adults. Braces make it more challenging for patients to maintain good oral hygiene. Just ask your kids! Fluoride can keep the teeth strong and cavity-free even with the obstacle of orthodontic appliances.

Have you had a restoration done within the last year due to new decay? If you have, that puts you at a higher risk for cavities. Fluoride treatments are a great way to prevent more cavities in patients who are already prone to them.

How is that flossing coming along? You know you should floss daily, but do you? If your oral hygiene is not ideal, fluoride could be just the thing to keep your neglect from leading to cavities between your teeth.

Fluoride can also help with the growing problem of sensitive teeth. Diets high in acidic foods and beverages, general gum recession, and increased use of whitening products all tend to produce sensitive teeth. Fluoride treatments re-mineralize tooth enamel and reduce that sensitivity.

Patients who undergo radiation treatment for cancer also benefit from topical fluoride applications. Radiation damages saliva glands, thus greatly reducing the flow of saliva. Saliva acts as a buffer against the foods we eat and beverages we drink. Once again, less saliva greatly increases the risk of cavities.

If one or more of these conditions applies to you, consider requesting a topical fluoride treatment. Be sure to ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk at your next appointment whether you might benefit from a topical fluoride application.

The Evolution of the Toothbrush

July 5th, 2023

Oral hygiene has always been an important part of maintaining overall health. For thousands of years, humans have found ways to keep their teeth and mouths clean. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), “early forms of the toothbrush have existed for nearly 5,000 years.” But what exactly did the first toothbrush look like?

Toothbrush Timeline

With help from The Library of Congress, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team have compiled a timeline with some interesting details about the evolution of the toothbrush:

  • 3000 BC – Perhaps the earliest form of the toothbrush, the “chew stick” was used by Ancient civilizations. People would rub this thin twig with a frayed end against their teeth to remove food and plaque.
  • 1498 – The bristle toothbrush was invented in China and had many similarities to the toothbrushes used today. These devices were made by attaching the stiff, coarse hairs from the back of a hog’s neck to handles that were typically made from bone or bamboo.
  • 1938 – Signaling the end of the boar bristle, Dupont de Nemours introduced nylon bristles, and Americans welcomed Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush, the first nylon toothbrush.
  • 1960 – The Squibb Company introduced Broxodent, one of the first electric toothbrushes, to the American market.

Toothbrushes Today

Today, there are many brands of toothbrushes that often advertise different benefits. The variety of options may seem overwhelming, but the most important thing is for you to find a toothbrush that you like and find easy to use.

The ADA recommends that you choose a toothbrush that fits comfortably and allows you to effectively reach all areas of your mouth. Whether you decide to use a manual or a powered toothbrush, make sure that you thoroughly clean all surfaces of your teeth twice a day.

Society has come a long way since the days of the chew stick, but one thing that remains the same is the importance of consistent and effective personal oral hygiene.

Baby Teeth and Cavities

June 28th, 2023

We know how frustrating it can be to discover your child has one or more cavities when you come to visit hartstone dental. There are several ways to prevent baby teeth from forming cavities due to decay. Not to worry: If your child does develop a cavity on a baby tooth, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can help take care of the problem.

Let’s look at how cavities on your little one’s teeth can be prevented from developing in the first place. Most often, children suffer decay from eating sugary foods. You may think, “My child doesn’t eat lots of candy!” In truth, fruits and juices have plenty of natural sugars that can break down teeth if they aren’t brushed thoroughly.

A well-balanced diet that includes calcium and phosphorous is necessary to keep your child’s oral health in a good state. If your son or daughter drinks juice, avoid giving it before bedtime and dilute the juice with water. Good options for snacks include vegetables, low-sugar yogurt or dairy products, and plenty of milk for healthy teeth.

Another excellent preventive strategy consists of scheduling regular appointments with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for your child. Between your youngster’s annual cleanings, make sure he or she brushes and flosses every day. It’s worthwhile for your little one to brush thoroughly for at least two minutes to remove any decay or plaque that has accumulated in the mouth, especially before bedtime.

Brushing Techniques

  • Move the brush both back and forth, and in circular gentle strokes.
  • Brush the outer surfaces, inside surfaces, and chewing surfaces of all teeth.
  • Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
  • Brush the tongue to remove excess bacteria and keep breath fresh.

It’s not always possible to prevent cavities from appearing in your son or daughter’s mouth. If your child does develop a cavity, our staff will notify you during the regular scheduled cleaning.

The cavity will need to be eliminated, even when it appears on a baby tooth. Our staff will remove the decayed part of the tooth and fill in the hole so your child doesn’t have to experience any pain.

You may wonder why a baby tooth has to be fixed if it is eventually going to fall out. Baby teeth hold spaces where your child’s permanent teeth have to grow in. If the former aren’t taken care of, multiple teeth may shift and the permanent ones won’t be able to grow in properly.

If you still have questions or concerns about your child’s baby teeth, or notice signs of a cavity, please don’t hesitate to contact our Middleton, WI office and schedule an appointment. Remember, preventive steps can be taken to avoid bothersome cavities from forming in your child’s mouth.

Lip Service

June 28th, 2023

When you think of Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk, you naturally think of your teeth. But your dental professional is concerned with more than the teeth, as important as they are. All aspects of your oral health—gums, bite, tongue, mouth—contribute to your well-being. So many elements go into creating your beautiful smile, and your lips? They’re front and center.

  • SPF—BFF

You already know that sunscreen is your best friend when it comes to protecting your skin. But don’t forget your lips when you’re slathering on the sunscreen! Delicate lip tissue is also susceptible to the sun’s damaging UV rays. Use a lip balm or lipstick with an appropriate SPF (Sun Protection Factor) for your skin type, and apply it liberally. Don’t forget to reapply every hour or two, after eating and drinking, and after going in the water. And if you’re protecting your children from the sun’s rays, check with your doctor about using sunscreen on young lips.

  • Healthy Hydrating

Dry, chapped lips are no one’s go-to look. And while moisturizers and balms can help dry lips recover, there’s a simple preventative measure you can take to avoid or reduce dryness.  You know how important water is for our bodies, and it’s essential for hydrating our lips as well. Make sure you drink the recommended amount of water each day for lips (and skin!) that are healthy and hydrated.

Not so healthy liquids? Alcohol. Alcohol is dehydrating, which undoes the benefits of that water you’ve been drinking. More than that, excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to oral cancer, especially when coupled with tobacco use.

  • Toss the Tobacco

All tobacco users have an increased risk for oral cancer. Pipe and cigar smokers are particularly at risk for lip cancers, and smokeless tobacco users have a greater risk of cancers on the inner lip surface. Need another reason to quit? Smoking leads to an increase in lip lines (wrinkles) and a decrease in lip volume.

  • Oral Exams

When you come to our Middleton, WI office for regular checkups, you can also get regular screenings for oral cancer and other oral conditions. While irregularities are often benign, lip cancer is one of the most common forms of oral cancer, and detecting cancerous or precancerous lesions as early as possible is important for treatment. If you have a sore or lump that doesn’t go away, a red or white patch of skin, bleeding or pain, or any other symptom that concerns you, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk.

Protect yourself from the sun, hydrate, use alcohol in moderation, give up tobacco if you are using it, and see your dentist regularly for examinations. These simple practices are beneficial not only for your expressive lips, but for your overall health and well-being. And feel free to spread the word—healthy habits and preventative care should be on everyone’s lips!

Surprising Ways to Prevent Cavities

June 22nd, 2023

There are numerous ways to prevent cavities. Some, like brushing your teeth regularly and visiting our Middleton, WI office, are more obvious than others. Beyond the standard methods of preventing cavities there are a number of different ways to keep your mouth healthy that you might also find surprising.

1. Reduce your consumption of carbs and sugar.

The consumption of sugar is ultimately the biggest catalyst for cavities. By limiting the sugar you consume both at meals and while snacking you will in turn be preventing cavities. But this goes for all carbs, not just sugar. See, even more complex, lower glycemic, carbs can lead to cavities in your mouth, so the best way to prevent them is to limit your carbohydrate intake. This is not to say that you have to cut out carbs all together, but by reducing your intake, you will prevent cavities and it can also lead to a healthier body overall.

2. Rinse your mouth with food-grade hydrogen peroxide.

For some people this may seem a little odd, but washing your mouth out with a food-grade hydrogen peroxide is an excellent way to prevent cavities. Doing so will kill harmful bacteria that accumulates in your mouth much in the same way applying the anti-septic to a cut does. That said, when you rinse your mouth out similar to how you would use a mouth wash, you want to make sure you don't swallow the hydrogen peroxide, spit it out instead.

3. Use a straw.

If you are someone that drinks a lot of sugary beverages a great way to prevent cavities is to use a straw. This way the sugar in the beverage does not come into contact with your teeth as much as it would if you were to drink straight from a glass, can, cup, or bottle.

4. Chew gum.

Chewing gum is another viable way of preventing cavities. You, of course, will need to chew a sugarless gum flavored with a substitute like Xylitol, and preferably with a cavity fighting ingredient in it.

5. Eat cheese.

Plain and simple cheese has a protein called casein which helps build calcium in your teeth which is vital to the integrity of your mouth and preventing cavities.

Dental X-rays and Your Child

June 22nd, 2023

We’re parents, so we worry. It comes with the job description! That’s why we make sure our children use toothbrushes with soft bristles and apply just the right amount of fluoride toothpaste. That’s why we make regular appointments with their dentists for preventive care and examinations. And that’s why we want to know all about the X-rays that are used in our children’s dental exams.

First of all, it’s reassuring to know that the amount of radiation we are exposed to from a single dental X-ray is very small. A set of bitewing X-rays, for example, exposes us to an amount of radiation that is approximately the same as the amount of radiation we receive from our natural surroundings in a single day.

Even so, dentists are especially careful when children need X-rays, because their bodies are still growing and their cells are developing more rapidly than adults. And children often have different dental needs than adults, which can require different types of imaging.

In addition to the usual X-rays that are taken to discover cavities, fractures, or other problems, young patients might need X-rays:

  • To confirm that their teeth and jaws are developing properly
  • To make sure, as permanent teeth come in, that baby teeth aren’t interfering with the arrival and position of adult teeth, and that there’s enough space in the jaw to accommodate them
  • To plan orthodontic treatment
  • To check the progress and placement of wisdom teeth

So, how do dentists make sure your child’s radiation exposure during X-ray procedures is as minimal as possible?

Radiologists, the physicians who specialize in imaging procedures and diagnoses, recommend that all dentists and doctors follow the safety principal known as ALARA: “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” This means using the lowest X-ray exposure necessary to achieve precise diagnostic results for all dental and medical patients.

Moreover, radiologists are devoted to raising awareness about the latest advances in imaging safety not only for dental and medical practitioners, but for the public, as well. With children in mind, pediatric radiologists from a number of professional associations have joined together to create the Image Gently Alliance, offering specific guidelines for the specific needs of young patients.

And because we are always concerned about the safety of our patients, dental associations around the world, including the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, are Image Gently Alliance members.

The guidelines recommended for X-rays and other imaging for young people have been designed to make sure all children have the safest experience possible whenever they visit the dentist or the doctor. As dental professionals, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team ensure that imaging is safe and effective in a number of ways:

  • We take X-rays only when they are necessary.
  • We provide protective gear, such as apron shields and thyroid collars, whenever needed.
  • We make use of modern X-ray equipment, for both traditional X-rays and digital X-rays, which exposes patients to a lower amount of radiation than ever before.
  • We set exposure times based on each child’s size and age, using the fastest film or digital image receptors.

We know your child’s health and safety are always on your mind, so you’re proactive about dental care. And your child’s health and safety are always on our minds, too, so we’re proactive when it comes to all of our dental procedures available at our Middleton, WI office.

Please free to talk with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about X-rays and any other imaging we recommend for your child. We want to put your mind at ease, knowing that X-rays will be taken only when necessary, will be geared to your child’s age and weight, and will be used with protective equipment in place. Because ensuring your child’s dental health and safety? That comes with our job description!

Crushing the Ice-Chewing Habit

June 15th, 2023

It's a habit many people have and not only can it be annoying to the people around you, it can be detrimental to your dental health. Chewing ice is so common that it even has its own name, pagophagia. We're not talking about a slushy or shaved ice (although those artificially sugary treats should be avoided too!) but more like the hunks of ice rattling around in the bottom of your glass.

Ice chewing can be a sign of emotional problems like stress or obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it can also be a marker for iron deficiency anemia and other physical problems. Then again, some people just like to have something to chew on. For whatever reason you find yourself chewing on it, it's a habit you need to break.

Chewing on ice can cause:

  • Chipped and cracked teeth
  • Damaged enamel
  • Sore jaw muscles
  • Damage to dental work such as crowns, fillings, or other appliances

If chewing on ice is becoming a problem in your life, don’t hesitate to speak with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about it. But if you find yourself still wanting to chew on something, here are a few alternatives to ice:

  • Baby carrots
  • Celery sticks
  • Sugar-free (xylitol) gum

We know you need to chill sometimes, but chomping down your entire glass of ice is not the way to do it. If you have any other questions on the topic, feel free to talk with a member of our Middleton, WI team. It may be beneficial in solving the issue and helping to remediate any damage to your teeth.

Can Your Dentist Tell If You’re Left-Handed?

May 31st, 2023

Sherlock Holmes, that most famous of fictional detectives, observed clues, analyzed them, and used his powers of deduction to arrive at the solution to his cases.

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team are skilled in deduction as well! By examining your teeth and gums during your regular checkup, important clues can be discovered about your dental health—and perhaps your overall health as well. What might be deduced when you come in for an exam?

  • You Haven’t Been Flossing

Even with some last-minute catchup flossing, it’s not hard to tell if you’ve been regularly skipping the flossing portion of your daily dental care. Plaque that your toothbrush just can’t reach on its own will be noticeable between your teeth and around the gum line. Your gums might be inflamed, swollen or bleeding—early signs of the gum disease plaque causes when it’s not removed with careful flossing.

These symptoms could arise because you’re neglecting to floss at least once a day, or it could be that your flossing skills could simply use some fine-tuning. A refresher in flossing technique takes no time at all. Or, you might discuss whether a water flosser would be a good investment for healthier teeth and gums if, for any reason, you have difficulty flossing effectively.

  • You Haven’t Been Sleeping Well

Even if your roommate or partner hasn’t told you that your teeth and jaws have been grinding away while you were not-so-soundly asleep, your dentist might be able to. Shorter, flattened teeth are a common symptom of bruxism, or tooth grinding. Your exam might reveal cracked enamel or broken cusps caused by the force you’re placing on them at night. This condition can also lead to larger jaw muscles and jaw pain.

Since these symptoms are also caused by sleep apnea, it’s a very good idea to find out what’s causing this dental stress. Treatments are available to make your sleep safer for your teeth and jaws—and more restful and healthier for you!

  • You Should Talk to Your Doctor

Conditions that seem to have nothing to do with your oral health can cause dental symptoms, alerting your dentist to a medical condition which you might not be aware of. Pale gums or a swollen tongue could be symptoms of anemia. Erosion on the inside of the teeth can be caused by GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to ulcers, loose teeth, and gum disease.

 If Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team suggest that you make an appointment with your doctor to find the medical cause of your dental symptoms, it’s essential to follow up.

  • Are You Left-Handed?

So, getting back to our original question, can your dentist deduce that you’re left-handed?

Probably not! It’s been suggested that left-handed people brush their teeth more firmly on the left side, and right-handed people brush harder on the right. And it’s also been suggested that left-handers don’t brush the left side of the mouth as thoroughly, while right-handers neglect their dominant side.

But Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can still tell you some important facts about your hand-brush coordination just by observing the state of your enamel. If you’re brushing too firmly, your tooth surfaces could show erosion and wear. A soft-bristled brush and a lighter hand will get your teeth just as clean without the abrasion.

If you’re having trouble reaching areas because of dexterity issues, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can point out the areas where plaque buildup reveals the spots you need to concentrate on. An electric toothbrush might be just the answer to making all the surfaces of your teeth equally accessible.

A dentist is an expert in observing, analyzing, and solving dental problems. When you keep to a regular schedule of exams and cleanings at our Middleton, WI dental office, you’ll benefit from that expertise to discover oral health issues before they become more serious. That’s an easy and elegant solution to maintaining your dental health. In fact, it’s elementary!

Does Your Child Need Endodontic Treatment?

May 31st, 2023

Baby teeth come with a built-in expiration date. That charming first smile is meant to make way for a healthy, beautiful adult smile. Unfortunately, before they are ready to make way for permanent teeth, primary teeth can be affected by decay, trauma, or infection—problems which can lead to damage to the pulp within the tooth. If your dentist tells you that your child’s tooth needs specialized endodontic treatment, is treatment really that much better for your child than losing a baby tooth prematurely?

Quite often, the answer is yes!

Baby teeth do much more than serve as temporary stand-ins for adult teeth. They are essential for:

  • Biting and chewing—a full set of baby teeth helps your child develop proper chewing, which leads to healthy digestion. And chewing also helps build face and jaw muscles.
  • Speech development—primary teeth help guide speech production and pronunciation.
  • Spacing—a baby tooth serves as a place holder for the adult tooth waiting to arrive. If a primary tooth is lost too early, the remaining baby teeth may drift from their proper location. This, in turn, can cause overcrowding or misalignment of the permanent teeth when they do erupt.

Baby teeth, like adult teeth, contain living pulp tissue. The pulp chamber inside the crown (the visible part of the tooth) and the root canals (inside each root) hold nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. When the pulp is damaged by trauma or infected, a baby tooth can still be saved with endodontic treatment. Endodontic treatment in baby teeth can take two forms.

  • “Vital” pulp is pulp that can be saved. Vital pulp therapy uses procedures to deal with damaged pulp inside the crown, or visible part, of the tooth. Pulp therapy can be used on teeth when only the top of the pulp has been affected by decay, limited exposure, infection, or trauma, but the root pulp remains healthy. Specific treatment will depend on the nature of the pulp injury, and a crown will usually be placed over the tooth after treatment to protect it.
  • With non-vital pulp, your dentist will probably recommend a traditional root canal procedure. All of the pulp tissue will be removed from inside the crown and the roots, and the pulp chamber and root canals will then be cleaned, disinfected, shaped, and filled. Finally, because the treated tooth will be more fragile, a crown will be used to protect the tooth from further damage.

There can be good reasons for extracting a seriously damaged baby tooth, and there are situations where preserving the tooth is the best and healthiest option for your child. Discuss your options with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk when you visit our Middleton, WI office for the safest, most effective way to treat your child’s compromised tooth.

The Best Brush of the Day

May 24th, 2023

Imagine that you’re only going to brush your teeth once tomorrow. Don’t worry, we know you would never skimp on your dental hygiene like that, but let’s just pretend for a moment. When would be the best time to brush? When you wake up? During the day? Or perhaps before you go to bed?

Actually, whenever you choose to brush, you’ll receive important overall dental benefits as well as specific benefits tied to the time of day. Let’s explore your daily schedule to see why.

Brushing in the Morning

Brushing when you first jump out of bed produces several positive results.

  • Cleaning plaque from your teeth

Plaque is a sticky film made up of oral bacteria, food particles, and saliva. As you sleep, these oral bacteria multiply and produce acids which attack the minerals in your enamel, leaving weak spots which, over time, can become cavities. Brushing removes these bacteria and acids from your enamel before they cause serious harm.

Moreover, plaque hardens if it’s left undisturbed, turning into tartar in a relatively short time. And once plaque becomes tartar, it must be removed by a dental professional. Brushing first thing in the morning removes this plaque buildup and helps prevent tartar from forming.

  • Fresh breath

That bacterial growth we mentioned? It’s also responsible for morning breath. If nothing else, brushing when you wake up means greeting a fresh day with fresh breath, and that’s reason enough to pick up your brush in the morning.

Brushing During the Day

Brushing after meals and snacks also has a lot to recommend it.

  • “Leftovers” lead to cavities

Foods, especially foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates, are converted by oral bacteria into acids which weaken enamel and lead to cavities. When food particles remain in the mouth after a meal, bacteria have more time and more fuel to manufacture these acids.

  • Acidic foods also affect your teeth

If you have eaten something acidic, such as citrus fruits, sodas, or pickled anything, the acids from these foods can temporarily weaken the mineral strength of your enamel. But brushing immediately after eating or drinking acidic foods can damage weakened enamel. Better to rinse well with water and brush after half an hour or so.

Brushing at Night

Growing up, you probably received regular reminders to brush before bedtime—for several really good reasons:

  • Saliva production slows while you sleep

During the day, saliva helps to wash away food particles and neutralize acidity in our mouths. It also contains proteins and minerals which help keep tooth enamel strong. But as we sleep, saliva production slows dramatically, and our bodies can’t remove bacteria and acids as effectively.

  • Food particles fuel bacterial growth

If you haven’t brushed since morning, you’ve accumulated a whole day’s worth of food particles from meals and snacks. Remember, oral bacteria use the sugars and carbs we eat as fuel to produce the acids which attack our tooth enamel throughout the night.

  • Brushing helps prevent both of these problems

Brushing your teeth before bed not only cleans away the accumulated food particles of the day, but also eliminates the plaque and bacteria which would have a much easier time sticking to your teeth without that daytime saliva flow to wash them away.

So, When’s the Best Time to Brush?

In the morning, during the day, at night —there are solid advantages to brushing any time of day. The question isn’t so much when to brush as how often you should brush.

While many dental professionals consider brushing before bedtime as the most important brush of the day, brushing at least two full minutes, at least twice during a 24 hour period, is a necessity for basic dental hygiene. (And don’t forget to floss at least once each day.)

If you wear orthodontic appliances, if you’ve been eating sugary snacks, if you’re showing signs of gingivitis or getting more than your share of cavities, if you want to reduce the chance of plaque and tartar buildup, or if you simply want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to maintain your overall dental health, brushing after meals is also highly recommended.

Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about your brushing habits the next time you visit our Middleton, WI office. No need to use your imagination to plan your best brushing schedule. We have all the answers you need to help you brush your way to your best—and healthiest—smile!

Playing “Tooth or Dare”

May 24th, 2023

Our teeth perform several vital roles for us. We use them to bite and chew, to help form words, to support our facial structure. And never underestimate the power of a smile!

But once you try to expand that job description, you are asking for trouble. Using your teeth for tasks they were not designed for is a game no one wins. What are some of the worst moves you can make? Putting your teeth into play as:

  • Ice Crushers

Crunching hard objects like teeth and ice cubes together can have one of two results—the ice will give, or your tooth will. If your tooth is the loser, you can expect cracks, fractures, worn enamel, and even dislodged crowns and fillings. If you’re tempted to chew on the ice in your drinks, try asking for a straw or using slushy ice instead. (The craving for ice can also be a symptom of other medical conditions—check with your doctor for more on that subject.)

  • Bottle Openers

If ice vs. teeth is a bad idea, metal vs. teeth must be a really bad idea. Those sharp hard metal caps can be difficult to remove even with a bottle opener. Don’t take a chance on chipped, fractured teeth and lacerated gums to get to that beverage faster/work around a lost opener/impress your friends.

  • Nut Crackers

Just because nuts offer more protein than ice doesn’t make their shells any safer to crack with your teeth. Besides the danger of fractured teeth and eroded enamel, biting on whole nuts can produce sharp splinters of shell that can damage delicate gum tissue. By all means, enjoy nuts—they pack a lot of nutrition in a small package. But buy them already shelled, or invest in a nutcracker.

  • Cutting Tools

Teeth aren’t meant to be scissors or utility knives. Even if you are trying to bite through the top of a relatively soft bag of chips, or a piece of duct tape, or a tag that just won’t come off your new clothes, you are putting pressure on your teeth in ways that they are not meant to handle. Don’t take a chance on chips and fractures.

  • A Helping Hand

Using your teeth to hold the straps of your heavy bag, or the leash of your well-trained pet—what could go wrong? How about an awkward fall? Or a squirrel? Or something that might possibly be a squirrel? Any fall or force that applies violent pressure to your teeth and jaw is a potential for dental disaster.

  • Stress Relief

You might grind your teeth or bite your nails whenever you feel nervous. Please find another form of stress relief! Grinding and clenching the teeth can lead to worn enamel, jaw pain, broken teeth and restorations, and a host of other problems. Biting fingernails is not only hard on your nails, but also introduces bacteria into your mouth and can cause damage to your tooth enamel.

If you grind your teeth at night, ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about a nightguard during your next visit to our Middleton, WI office.

This is real life, and you really don’t want to be playing “Tooth or Dare” with your dental health. Use your teeth for what they were designed for, and you’ll take home the grand prize—a lifetime supply of beautiful, healthy smiles.

Women's Hormones and Oral Health

May 17th, 2023

At hartstone dental, we know that hormones affect a woman's mood, but did you know they can also impact the health of a woman’s mouth? Women are susceptible to gum disease at different times in their lives, and research shows that hormonal highs and lows are part of the problem. According to studies, there are five situations in women’s lives during which hormone fluctuations make them more susceptible to oral health problems: puberty, their menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause, and birth control pill usage. So just what happens and how can you help protect your oral health? Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team have outlined the five hormonal situations and provided a few tips and tricks to fending off potential issues.

Puberty - The surge of hormone production that occurs during puberty can increase the blood flow to the gums and change the way gum tissue reacts to irritants in plaque. As a result, a woman's gums may bleed during the act of brushing and flossing.

Monthly menstruation cycle - Hormonal changes (especially the increase in progesterone) occur during a woman’s menstrual cycle. These changes can lead to red swollen gums, swollen salivary glands, canker sores, or bleeding gums.

Pregnancy - Hormone levels tend to fluctuate during pregnancy. As a result, women are at greater risk to develop a condition called gingivitis, the early form of gum disease. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk may recommend more frequent professional cleanings during your second or early third trimester to help reduce the chance of developing gingivitis. Please let us know if you are pregnant during your visit.

Menopause - Women are known to experience numerous oral changes as they age. These oral changes can include greater sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages, a burning sensation in your mouth, or dry mouth. Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, can result in the development of tooth decay and gum disease because saliva is not available to moisten and cleanse the mouth. It is important to know that dry mouth can also result from many prescription and over-the-counter medications. The gradual loss in estrogen that occurs with menopause also puts older women at risk for loss of bone density, which can lead to tooth loss. Receding gums, which expose more of the tooth surface to potential tooth decay, can be a sign of bone loss in the jawbone.

Birth control pills - Some birth control pills contain progesterone, which increases the level of that hormone in the body. Women who take pills with progesterone may develop inflamed gum tissue due to the toxins produced from plaque. Be sure to tell us if you are taking an oral contraceptive during your visit.

To prevent gum disease, we recommend:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride
  • Flossing at least once a day
  • Eating a well-balanced diet
  • Avoiding sugary or starchy snacks

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team at hartstone dental encourage you to visit our Middleton, WI office and practice good oral health habits at home.

Natural Ways to Soothe a Toothache

May 10th, 2023

Toothaches can come in many different forms, but no matter which, they’re always uncomfortable. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team want you to know there are simple ways to cure this common problem.

Toothaches can be caused by infections, gum diseases, teeth grinding, trauma, or having an abnormal bite. Several symptoms may become noticeable when you start to experience a toothache. You might develop a fever, have trouble swallowing, notice an unpleasant discharge, and most often feel lasting pain when you bite down.

If you begin to notice any of these symptoms, try to manage the pain with the simple remedies below. If the pain continues, contact our Middleton, WI office and schedule an appointment, because a bigger issue might be involved.

  1. First, try rinsing your mouth out with warm salt water. This helps to disinfect your mouth and may soothe the region where the toothache is occurring. Hydrogen peroxide can also help if you swish it around in your mouth.
  2. Applying a cold compress or ice pack to your jaw in area that hurts can help with swelling.
  3. Make sure to floss your entire mouth thoroughly. The problem could be caused by food debris stuck between your teeth.
  4. Certain essential oils possess pain-relieving qualities, including clove, nutmeg, eucalyptus, or peppermint oil. Use a cotton swab and dilute one of these oils, then apply it to the problem tooth and/or gum area. Repeat the process as needed. This can also be done with apple cider vinegar.
  5. Similar to essential oils, peppermint tea can soothe and slightly numb the area. Swish it around in your mouth once it has cooled off for temporary relief.
  6. You may also soothe a toothache by eating Greek yogurt. You might be surprised to know that yogurt contains healthy bacteria that can help fight against pain.
  7. Crushed garlic can be rubbed on the aching area to help relieve pain. Garlic contains allicin, which slows bacterial activity. The application may burn at first but it has been known to help treat inflammation.

When it comes to preventing toothaches, you can take various measures. Always make sure you brush and floss every day, though. If you schedule regular oral examinations by Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk, you will decrease infections that may cause toothache from spreading.

If you’ve tried the methods listed above and your toothache hasn’t gone away, call our Middleton, WI office and we can schedule an appointment to figure out the cause of the problem and provide a solution.

Celebrate Your Mom’s Smile with These Mother’s Day Gifts

May 10th, 2023

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and if you’re looking for some different gifting ideas for one of the most important people in your life, we have some suggestions for you. Here are a variety of gifts large and small tailored to your mom’s interests and chosen to support her dental health. After all, that’s what we’re here for!

  • The Techie Mom

If your mother hasn’t tried the latest in brushing technology, a new electric toothbrush might be the gift to warm her techie heart.

Modern electric toothbrushes have plenty of options for the tech-savvy. They come with different settings for brushing and massaging. They can let your mom know if she’s brushing long enough, or if she’s brushing too hard, or when the brush head needs to be replaced. Some models link to apps which show a map of just where she’s brushed, in case some spots tend to get overlooked and underbrushed.

  • The Adventurous Mom

A week in the woods doesn’t faze her. Backpacking? Relaxing. Day hikes? No problem. So help your mom stay unfazed, unstressed, and problem-free with an emergency dental kit for peace of mind during those adventurous outings.

Lightweight kits are available in sporting stores and online. Supplies like cotton rolls, dental floss, oral pain relievers, a dental mirror, and even temporary fillings are included, because, as your mom no doubt told you, it’s always best to be prepared!

  • The Gourmet Mom

For the mom who appreciates foods which both taste good and do good, consider a gourmet gift which can satisfy her palate and contribute to her health. While normally we wouldn’t recommend sugary chocolates as having any kind of health benefit, dark chocolates are the delicious exception to the rule.

Dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) is a great source of antioxidants, iron, zinc, magnesium and other important minerals. It’s lower in sugar content, and some studies suggest that dark chocolate has cavity-fighting properties and supports gum health. For a personal touch, deliver homemade treats like dark chocolate-covered frozen bananas (low in acidity and filled with nutrients) or dark chocolate-dipped strawberries (a good source of vitamin C, which is great for her gums).

  • The Athletic Mom

She can outski you, outrun you, and hit those threes with ease. If your mom finds her bliss on the slopes, the soccer pitch, the basketball court, or any other sporty venue, consider a custom mouthguard to protect that winning smile.

Custom guards are more comfortable than store-bought options because they are molded to fit the user’s teeth and mouth precisely. This is especially helpful for those with dental work like braces or bridges. And, because the fit is custom, your mom will enjoy easier breathing and talking while exercising.

  • The Mom on the Go

With her active life, any gift which makes your mom’s busy schedule run more smoothly is a good thing—such as a portable kit filled with dental necessities.

A travel toothbrush, a small tube of her favorite toothpaste, a compact mirror, dental picks, dental floss, and a mini-bottle of mouthwash are great basics for a confident smile any time of day. Put everything in a stylish lightweight travel bag. And don’t forget to include a pack of sugarless gum! Sugarless gum helps increase saliva flow (for better hydration) and decrease oral acidity (to help prevent enamel erosion).

  • The Media-Ready Mom

With those perfect selfie angles, your mom’s smiles light up social media! If she’s ever expressed an interest in lightening and brightening that beautiful smile, a professional whitening treatment might be the very gift for her.

Professional whitening at our Middleton, WI office is the most effective way to brighten teeth, with results which are generally faster and more long lasting than over-the-counter treatments. And it’s done with your mom’s dental health in mind, with a checkup to make sure her teeth are in perfect shape before whitening, and with protective measures in place for sensitive mouth and gum tissue.

We hope this list is a helpful starting point for choosing a smile-healthy gift tailored to your mom’s interests. But we can’t close without adding one last gift perfect for every mother. Including a heartfelt letter or card telling her how much she means to you will put a smile on your mom’s face long after Mother’s Day has come and gone!

Suffer from Dental Anxiety? Not a Problem.

May 3rd, 2023

If you suffer from dental anxiety, we understand that paying a visit to our office can seem like a nearly impossible mission. Regardless of what the root of that anxiety might be, we’re here to tell you that at hartstone dental, you have no need to be nervous. Our office is dedicated to making your dental experience as comfortable and stress-free as possible.

One of the best things to do if you experience dental anxiety is call our office in advance to let us know. By notifying us in advance, you give us the opportunity to provide you with the dental care you need in the way you need it.

We can prescribe a relaxation medication for you. During your appointment, we can provide a little bit of laughing gas to put you more at ease, teach you some behavioral techniques for relaxation, and make sure you’re never in the dark about what’s happening.

If dental anxiety makes you feel embarrassed, please be assured that you’re not alone. Studies show that as much as 75% of adults suffer some degree of dental anxiety! It might be helpful to remember that your doctor’s goal is the same as yours: We are here to keep your oral health in check so you can be your healthiest self. We certainly don’t want to make you uncomfortable in the process.

If you have any questions about other ways in which we can accommodate you during your visits, please don’t hesitate to contact our Middleton, WI office!

The Best DH in Baseball

May 3rd, 2023

Oh, wait—did you think we meant Designated Hitter? Oh, no, we’re not getting into that debate! What we want to talk about is the best Dental Habits you can practice when you’re on and off the field.

  • When It Comes to Safety, Touch All the Bases

Basic baseball vocabulary lets you know it’s a tough sport. Brushback. High heat. Slide. Line drive. Hit-by-pitch. Not surprising, when it’s a game where weighty bats meet balls thrown at incredible speeds. Or where players slide into bases and stop line drives. So protect yourself. Wear a batting helmet. Use protective gear. And get yourself a mouthguard!

You can choose a one-size-fits-all stock guard, or a “boil-and-bite” model which fits a bit more closely to your teeth and mouth. But your best protection comes with a custom mouthguard. Custom guards are more comfortable, more durable, and make it easier to speak and breathe. If you or your young player wear braces, mouthguards are especially important to protect both teeth and orthodontics.

  • Ball Park Snack Power Hitters

Sure, you’re not trying to match Babe Ruth’s hot dog-eating habits (a dozen dogs between two games of a doubleheader!), but we can set the bar higher than that. While it’s easy to rely on energy drinks, soft drinks, power bars, and other sugary and acidic treats to get you through nine innings, those sugars and acids put you at risk for cavities and enamel erosion.

Fresh fruits with peanut butter, vegetable sticks with hummus, cheese and whole grain crackers, yogurt, or lean meat with whole grain wraps—these and many other snacks can provide you with protein, healthy carbs, and natural sugars for an energy boost during a long game or practice. If you choose an energy bar for refueling, look for one without all the added sugars.

Hydrating is always important whenever you’re working out. And, while you can look for power drinks and energy drinks which are low in sugars and acids, a refillable water bottle is an easy, inexpensive, and effective form of hydration. Bonus: water helps wash away food particles and bacteria and helps neutralize acids in the mouth by maintaining saliva production.

  • Biggest No-No?

A “no-no” is a no-hitter to baseball fans. But for your oral health, the most important no-no of all refers to tobacco.

Chewing tobacco is one of those old-time baseball cliches which we’re not nostalgic about. Chewing tobacco greatly increases the risk of neck, head, and mouth cancers, particularly oral squamous cell cancers. Don’t start the chewing tobacco habit—or any other tobacco habit, for that matter. If you do use tobacco, ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for tips on quitting. Keep up with regular dental exams at our Middleton, WI office for early detection of any potential warning signs of oral cancer.

When it comes to your dental safety, don’t get caught looking. For your best performance on and off field, avoid errors like playing without a mouthguard, exposing your teeth to acids and extra sugars, and using dangerous tobacco products of any kind. Play ball!

What to Do When Your Child Has a Loose Tooth

April 26th, 2023

When your child loses a tooth for the first time, you both have a lot to look forward to. Sharing in the “I’m a big kid!” excitement. Tales of the Tooth Fairy or other traditions to mark the occasion. Seeing the start of a beautiful grown-up smile.

But before that baby tooth wiggles all the way out of your child’s mouth, let’s talk about how to handle a loose baby tooth.

  • Be mindful of your children’s feelings. Reassure them that this is a normal part of growing up. If they are anxious about losing a tooth, there are children’s books which can help ease their fears in a soothing and entertaining way.
  • Crunchy and healthy foods like carrot sticks and apple slices can help the tooth fall out naturally—and nutritiously!
  • Encourage careful wiggling. No need for children to yank or pull—time, and a child’s own gentle wiggling with tongue or clean hands, should do the trick. If wiggling the tooth is painful, it might not be ready to come out just yet.
  • If a tooth absolutely is ready, but just won’t come out, you can help your child without resorting to a string and a doorknob. Give our Middleton, WI office a call for some suggestions for helping that baby tooth on its way to the Tooth Fairy in a timely—and gentle—fashion.

And if a tooth is clearly loose before its time? Should you encourage its exit?

Probably not. Baby teeth are temporary, but they’re important for your child’s development. They help with speech production, eating and chewing, and serve as placeholders so that permanent teeth can erupt in the right spot at the right time.

There are some situations when a loose baby tooth means a visit to the dentist is in order:

  • Baby teeth usually fall out over a period of years, generally from ages 6 through 12. Since children’s teeth tend to fall out in the same order they arrived, if a molar is loose before the front teeth start to wiggle, give your dentist a call.
  • If your child suffers a fall, or a sports injury, or any kind of accident that leaves a tooth or teeth loose, call your doctor or dentist right away to make sure there are no serious injuries or chance for infection.
  • Any time you feel a tooth is loose that shouldn’t be, make an appointment with your child’s dentist.

Finally, we’ve been talking about loose baby teeth, but loose permanent teeth are another matter entirely.

If you child has a loose permanent tooth due to an injury, or a bad bite, or night-time bruxism (tooth-grinding), or for any other reason, it’s important to call for an appointment immediately. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will be able to pinpoint the cause of the problem and can offer some solutions. In the meantime,

  • Make sure your child eats soft foods, and tries to eat on the opposite side of the loose tooth.
  • Keep the area clean with gentle rinsing instead of brushing and flossing.
  • Tell your child not to wiggle it! If the bone or ligaments holding the tooth in place have been damaged, playing with the tooth can make it looser.

A loose baby tooth is a step in your child’s journey to a beautiful, healthy adult smile. Reassure, encourage, and help your child through this rite of passage—and don’t hesitate to call on Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for advice!

Considerations When Picking the Right Mouthwash

April 26th, 2023

A solid oral health routine begins with daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing. Without a consistent oral health regimen, you may begin to experience tooth decay and bacterial infections. Few patients ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about different mouthwash options, so we’ve put together a list of the conditions that mouthwashes can treat. This should help you decide which oral rinse would be best for you.

Gum Health

Antiseptic mouthwashes reduce large amounts of bacteria on and near the gum line and generally help to decrease your chances of developing gingivitis. The key ingredients of antiseptic mouthwashes are antibacterial and antimicrobial items. Antiseptic mouthwash is a preferable option if you are concerned about the general gum health of your mouth.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a great tool for preventive tooth decay treatment. It prevents tooth decay and is great for oral health in general because it kills germs that can live in your mouth. Fluoride also builds stronger teeth. If you’re a bottled water drinker, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk may recommend that you purchase a simple fluoride rinse to use after brushing.

Bad Breath

Fluoride mouthwash can be used to fight any bad breath issues you may be facing. It’s designed to combat any bacteria that might be building up in your mouth. Most mouthwashes will help eliminate bad breath, but some are specifically designed to address this difficult problem. If you feel as though this might be turning into a chronic problem, please contact Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk to discuss other options that would be effective for treating your symptoms.

American Dental Association (ADA Approval)

The ADA reviews all mouth rinses for safety measures and to prove effectiveness. Any mouthwash approved by the ADA has met strict guidelines according to whether the manufacturer’s claims are supported with scientific evidence. If you’re looking for a quality mouthwash, look for one that has the ADA seal of approval to ensure you have a great rinse for your mouth.

Considerations

When you’re trying to decide which mouthwash to pick, contact our Middleton, WI or ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk during your next appointment. If you experience a burning sensation in the soft tissues of your mouth, be sure to discontinue use immediately. Avoid letting children under age six use a mouth rinse, and be sure to keep all mouthwashes out of the reach of children, because they contain alcohol and other substances that could be harmful.

Is it possible to over brush?

April 25th, 2023

Our team at hartstone dental will tell you brushing on a regular basis is critical for a healthy mouth, but you can definitely overdo a good thing. Known as “toothbrush abrasion,” over brushing can lead to sensitive teeth and receding gums, not to mention the wearing down of the protective layers of your tooth enamel. Over brushing can also push back your gums, and in the process, expose the dentin layer under the enamel.

“So, how do I avoid over brushing?”

  • Use a soft or extra-soft bristled toothbrush to prevent gum damage and wear on the soft tooth dentin
  • Keep in mind which direction bristles face when you brush. They should be perpendicular, not parallel. Place the head of your toothbrush with the tips of the bristles at a 45-degree angle to the gum line and brush away!
  • Move the toothbrush with short strokes and a scrubbing motion, several times in each spot – don’t saw back and forth across the teeth with your toothbrush.
  • Apply just enough pressure to feel the bristles against the gums. If you are squashing the bristles, you're brushing too hard.
  • Replace your toothbrush when you notice frayed and bent bristles.
  • Brush for two minutes at a time

If you have any questions about proper brushing techniques, ask us about it at your next appointment or give us a call today!

Keeping Your Teeth Strong and Healthy

April 25th, 2023

What is the strongest part of our bodies? Do you think it might be our bones, which help us move and protect our brains, hearts and other organs? Or could it be those tough fingernails and toenails that guard our fingertips and toes? Nope! You might be surprised to learn that the hardest thing in our bodies is the enamel which covers our teeth!

Our bones grow with us and can even knit back together in case we have a broken arm or leg. Our toenails grow more slowly, and our fingernails grow more quickly, so regularly trimming is required for both. But our enamel doesn’t grow or repair itself when it is damaged, so it needs to last us a lifetime. How can such a strong part of our bodies be damaged? And can we do anything to protect our teeth? Luckily, we can!

Prevent Chips and Cracks

You might be the fastest on your bike, or the highest scorer on your basketball team, or able to do the most amazing tricks on your skateboard. But even the strongest teeth can’t win against a paved road, or an elbow under the basket, or a cement skate park. If you’re physically active, talk to us about a mouthguard. This removable appliance fits closely around the teeth and can protect your teeth and jaw in case of accident. And protect your enamel even when you’re not being adventurous! Don’t bite down on ice cubes or hard candy, and save your pens and pencils for writing, not chewing.

Guard Your Teeth from Tooth Grinding

If you grind your teeth, you’re not alone! Many other young people do, too—mostly in their sleep. In fact, it might be a parent or sibling who lets you know you are grinding at night. But constant pressure on your enamel can lead to cracked enamel, sensitivity, and even worn down teeth. How can you protect them? Once again, a mouth guard can be a great solution. We can custom fit one to allow you to sleep comfortably while protecting your teeth.

Eat Healthy Foods & Brush Regularly

We all have bacteria in our mouths. Some are helpful, and some are not. The bacteria in plaque can change food products like sugar and starches into acids. These acids actually break down our enamel, which can lead to tooth sensitivity and decay. Making sugars and carbs a small part of your regular diet, and eating meals rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals, will help stop acids from attacking your enamel. And careful brushing and flossing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste can help keep those minerals in enamel from breaking down and even help restore them.

Your enamel is the strongest part of your body, and you can help it stay that way. Protect your teeth from accidents, let our Middleton, WI team know if you or a parent suspect you are grinding your teeth, eat healthy foods, and keep up your regular brushing. And remember, we are here to help keep your family’s teeth and mouth their healthiest for your strongest, most beautiful smile.

Why are my gums shrinking?

April 25th, 2023

If you’ve noticed that your teeth have appeared to be longer, you may be suffering from gum recession. This is a common problem among adults, and can result from several factors. If gum recession seems to be happening in your mouth, schedule an appointment at our Middleton, WI office. We will take a look and figure out the cause, and help you decide on the best treatment.

The first thing Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will do is take measurements of the recession to see if the cause could be periodontal disease. Based on how much attached gingiva is present on the gums, a varying amount of gum recession will be present.

The less bone support you have for your teeth, the higher the chance of tooth loss will be. If you have a high likelihood of tooth loss, it’s critical to address the problem right away.

Gum recession can also be caused by stress-related issues that lead to jaw clenching and teeth grinding in the night. This added, ongoing pressure puts extra stress on your teeth, which flexes them at the gum line.

If this happens over a long period, microscopic breaks in your enamel will cause your gum line to move away from your teeth. An occlusal guard may serve as a solution to gum recession caused by teeth grinding. Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about this option if you consistently wake up with jaw pain, headaches, or uncomfortable pressure on the sides of your face.

The way you brush and floss your teeth may also cause gum recession. If you’re an aggressive brusher, make sure to purchase toothbrushes labeled “soft.” It’s best to brush your teeth in a circular motion in order to sweep over all your gum lines and remove the most plaque. Generally, brushing in a straight line can leave spots of plaque that lead to periodontal disease, which is a common cause of gum recession.

There are several options for treatment of gum recession. Depending on the cause, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will talk with you to decide the best treatment plan. Care may involve a deep cleaning or an antibiotic treatment. In serious cases, treatment might involve pocket-depth reduction, a soft tissue draft, or gum regeneration surgery.

These are just a few of the many potential causes of gum recession and how we can treat the problem. Unfortunately, gums do not grow back, and the consequences of ignoring this condition can be painful and time-consuming.

Please call our Middleton, WI office to schedule an appointment if you’ve noticed any elongating of your teeth or recurring irritation of the gums. We will work as hard as possible to help rid you of your gum recession and prevent it from getting worse in the future.

Post-Procedure Care

April 24th, 2023

As with any surgery, post-procedure care is of utmost importance after getting periodontal surgery. Bleeding, pain, swelling, and other sensations are common and should be expected to a degree. This can manifest as small amounts of blood in your saliva, pain after anesthesia wears off, and swelling around the lips and cheeks. However, these symptoms should start improving after a several days.

Below you'll find recommendations from Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk on what you should do to make your post-procedure experience as quick and painless as possible:

Don't smoke - After your surgery you should definitely not smoke. Smoking will inhibit your body's ability to heal the surgical site.

Don't drink alcohol - If you are taking prescription or over-the-counter pain relievers, don't drink alcohol. And it is a good idea in general to avoid alcohol after surgery, since excess alcohol consumption suppresses immune system function and slows the healing process.

Take pain medication as prescribed or an alternative - Pain is to be expected for at least the first week after your procedure. If you choose to take the prescription medication that is prescribed to you, do so as directed. However some patients have found over-the-counter pain medication works for them. You may also consider natural herbs instead of pharmacological solutions. Try turmeric, arnica, or white willow bark (which is what aspirin is derived from, so the same warnings for aspirin apply to white willow bark.)

Eating with your surgical site in mind - It is best to chew on the other side of your mouth for the first several days so as not to irritate the surgical site. Avoid overly cold or hot foods as well. Softer foods like mashed potatoes, oatmeal, and fruit will be more comfortable to chew.

Avoid brushing the surgical site - You can start brushing and flossing your teeth the day after the procedure but avoid the surgical site.

Don't rinse for the first 24 hours - After the first day has passed you can rinse with a mild mouthwash to keep your mouth, dressing, and surgical site clean.

We're here to answer any questions you have after your procedure and will help you as best we can. Pay special attention to any excessive bleeding or discomfort. Contact our Middleton, WI office immediately if you have tried addressing the issue on your own but are still having trouble.

Teeth Grinding

April 5th, 2023

It might seem like you’ve gotten a great night’s sleep—but why aren’t you well rested? Worse, why are you waking up with:

  • A headache
  • Ringing in your ears or an earache
  • Pain in your jaw
  • Worn or sensitive teeth
  • Dry mouth or mouth and cheek injuries
  • An unhappy partner who’s been kept awake all night?

If you suffer from any or all of these symptoms, you might be one of the millions of people who have a sleep-related disorder called bruxism, better known as teeth grinding.

There are any number of causes that have been linked to bruxism. Stress and other negative emotions seem to trigger episodes, as can lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol or caffeine. Sleep apnea can lead to grinding your teeth, or you could have bite or tooth alignment problems. Certain medications might set off this disorder, and some studies have shown a hereditary tendency in families. Whatever the reason you grind your teeth, there are many important reasons to stop as soon as you can.

As bad as the nagging headaches and earaches that can accompany bruxism can be, long-term damage to your teeth can develop over time. With continuing grinding pressure on the teeth, enamel is worn away prematurely. Teeth can crack or chip. They may loosen or develop sensitivity to heat, cold, and pressure. Gum tissue can recede or become inflamed. Dental restorations can be cracked or broken.

If you—or someone in your house—suspects that you are grinding your teeth at night, give our Middleton, WI office a call! We can recommend relaxation techniques, diet changes, or tips to help you relax your jaw. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk might suggest a nightguard, a custom-fitted appliance worn while you sleep, to reduce the impact of grinding. There are options available. Let’s work together to make every night’s sleep a restful, healthy one.

Do Spring Allergies Mean (B)Looming Dental Problems?

April 5th, 2023

April showers bring May flowers, and May flowers bring . . . allergies. If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from seasonal allergies, you might be suffering some dental side effects as well.

When you have pollen allergies, pollen triggers your body’s immune system to release histamines. Histamines are part of the body’s defense system. They cause the tissues in the nose and sinuses to become inflamed and swollen as they increase blood supply to these areas. They also cause your body to produce more mucus.

Normally, mucus from the sinus cavities drains into the nasal cavity and then down the back of the throat, where it mixes with saliva and is swallowed. We never even notice it. Until it’s allergy season. Unfortunately, our defense mechanisms can have some offensively unpleasant consequences.

  • Headache & Facial Pain

Our sinus cavities are small hollow spaces in the bones of the head which are filled with air and, like our nasal cavities, are lined with mucous membranes. It’s these membranes, not surprisingly, which produce mucus. And though we might turn up our noses at this slippery topic, mucus is actually quite helpful for trapping and filtering out unwanted hitchhikers like bacteria, viruses, dust, pollens, and other pollutants in the air we breathe before they reach our lungs.

When histamines are released, normal mucus production increases to filter out those tiny pollen invaders. At the same time, tissue around the nose and sinuses swells up, which can trap mucus inside the sinus cavities. This, in turn, causes increased pressure within the sinuses, and this pressure brings on allergy-related headaches and facial pain.  

  • Nasal Congestion & Postnasal Drip

With the occasional runny nose or sneeze, you can blow your nose once or twice and that’s that. During allergy season, greatly increased mucus production might see you spending all day within reaching distance of your box of tissues. But when the tissue in your nose is swollen as well, you now find yourself with nasal congestion.

A stuffy nose means excess mucus has to exit somewhere else, which means this extra, often thicker, mucus all drains into the back of your throat. This is postnasal drip, and it can make you miserable in several different ways. Hoarseness. Coughing during the day. Worse coughing at night. Sore throat. Nausea. Difficulty swallowing.

All these allergy symptoms are uncomfortable enough! But, to add to our discomfort, allergies can lead to uncomfortable oral symptoms as well.

  • Tooth Pain

A common result of allergies is tooth pain. How does this happen? It’s because of the way our bodies are designed. The maxillary sinus cavities are directly above the roots of our upper molars.

When sinus cavities are congested and sinus pressure builds up, it also puts pressure on these roots. The result is tooth pain, usually affecting several upper molars at once.

  • Dry Mouth

One of the natural responses to a stuffy nose is mouth-breathing—we can’t go without air, after all! But exposing the inside of the mouth to all that air dries out delicate gum and mouth tissues. It also reduces normal saliva flow. This can cause xerostomia, more commonly known as dry mouth.

Because saliva neutralizes acidity in the mouth and washes away bacteria and other germs, lower saliva production means greater risk of cavities, infections, and bad breath. Dry mouth can also cause gum irritation and gingivitis, because less saliva means more harmful bacteria build-up between the gums and the teeth.

  • Antihistamines & Your Oral Health

If histamines are the problem, are antihistamines the obvious solution? This is a good question for Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk or your physician. Antihistamines can be very drying—so you might find you’re experiencing dry mouth even when all those other pesky allergy symptoms have disappeared. And, if you already suffer from xerostomia, it’s especially important to get your doctor’s advice before buying over the counter antihistamines.

In allergy season, just like any other time of the year, be sure to hydrate and keep up with brushing and flossing for fresh breath and healthy teeth and gums. Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk if you have persistent tooth pain, dry mouth, or irritated gums—it’s always best to rule out other causes like infection or decay.

But, if your problems are caused by allergies, you don’t have to wait until the next snowfall to get relief. Talk to your doctor or allergist for ways to reduce or eliminate your symptoms before allergy problems start blooming into dental problems. You’ll breathe easier!

Thumb Sucking

March 29th, 2023

Learning to suck their thumbs is one of the first physical skills babies acquire. In fact, ultrasound images have revealed babies sucking their thumbs in the womb! Babies have a natural sucking reflex, and this activity is a normal way for your baby to soothe herself.

If your toddler still turns to her thumb for comfort, no need to worry. Most children give up this habit as they grow, and generally stop completely between the ages of two and four. But what of the child who doesn’t? Should you encourage your child to stop? And when?

When Thumb Sucking Becomes a Problem

After your child turns five, and certainly when her permanent teeth start to arrive, aggressive thumb sucking is something to watch for. This type of vigorous sucking, which puts pressure on the teeth and gums, can lead to a number of problems.

  • Open Bite

Our bites are considered normal when the upper teeth slightly overlap the lower where they touch in the front of the mouth. But with aggressive thumb sucking, teeth are pushed out of alignment. Sometimes this results in a condition called “open bite,” where the upper and lower teeth don’t make contact at all. An open bite almost always requires orthodontic treatment.

  • Jaw Problems

Your child’s palate and jaw are still growing. Aggressive thumb sucking can actually change the shape of the palate and jaw, and even affect facial structure. Again, orthodontic treatment can help, but prevention is always the better option!

  • Speech Difficulties

Prolonged thumb sucking has been suggested as a risk factor for speech disorders such as lisping, the inability to pronounce certain letters, or tongue thrusting.

The consequences from aggressive thumb sucking can be prevented with early intervention. What to do if you are worried?

Talk to Us

First, let us reassure you that most children stop thumb sucking on their own, and with no negative dental effects at all. But if your child is still aggressively sucking her thumb once her permanent teeth have started erupting, or if we see changes in her baby teeth, let’s talk about solutions during an appointment at our Middleton, WI office. We can offer suggestions to help your child break the habit at home. There are also dental appliances available that can discourage thumb sucking if your child finds it especially hard to stop.

Work with your Child

  • Be Positive

Positive reinforcement is always best. Praise her when she remembers not to suck her thumb. Make a chart with stickers to reward every thumb-free day. Pick out a favorite book to read or activity you can share.

  • Identify Triggers

Children associate thumb sucking with comfort and security.  If your child turns to her thumb when she’s anxious, try to discover what is bothering her and how to reassure her. If she automatically sucks her thumb when she is bored, find an activity that will engage her. If she’s hungry, offer a healthy snack.

  • Talk about It!

Depending on her age, it might help your child to understand why stopping this habit is important. We are happy to explain, in a positive, age-appropriate way, just how breaking the thumb sucking habit will help her teeth and her smile.

Again, most children leave thumb sucking behind naturally and easily. But if what is a comfort for your child has become a concern for you, please give us a call. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will work with you and your child to prevent future orthodontic problems and begin her lifetime of beautiful smiles.

 

The Safety of Dental X-Rays

March 29th, 2023

An article was released to the public stating that dental X-rays contribute to a type of brain cancer. After reading an article like this, your first thought may be to avoid dental X-rays, but you may want to hold off on that quick judgment. As with any treatment we offer at hartstone dental, education is your most valuable tool in deciding what is best for you.

How often dental X-rays are taken is based on risk for infection, physical symptoms, and clinical findings. The American Dental Association (ADA) is a governing body over the dental profession. The ADA states, “ . . . healthy adults receive routine mouth X-rays every two to three years. Dental X-rays are recommended every one to two years for children and every 1.5 to three years for teens. Children often require more X-rays than adults because of their developing teeth and jaws and increased likelihood for cavities.”

A "caries risk category" often determines how often dental X-rays are taken. The most recent documented resource to determine a caries risk is Caries Management by Risk Assessment (CAMBRA). This was adopted by the ADA and is used by dental professionals giving interval recommendations for X-rays.

With knowledge of your risk for dental infection, you will be informed by Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk of the interval at which dental X-rays should be taken. You can rest assured that the standards published by the ADA have been researched extensively and are there to protect your personal health and safety.

Dental X-rays are most commonly digital, which significantly reduces exposure. There is more radiation exposure from the sun or in an airplane than in a dental X-ray. It is common practice to use a lead apron with a thyroid collar for protection during X-ray exposure.

Having a cavity means having an active, potentially harmful infection. Diagnosing such infection with minimal exposure through digital dental X-rays at our Middleton, WI office does more good than harm.

Dental Emergencies in Children

March 22nd, 2023

Unfortunately, dental emergencies can sometimes be unavoidable among young children. The good news is Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can help you prepare in case you and your child find yourselves in any of the following situations.

Teething

Starting at about four months and lasting up to three years, your son or daughter may experience teething pain. It’s common for teething children to grow irritable and become prone to drooling due to tender gums. Give your child a cold teething ring or rub his or her gums with your finger to help relieve the discomfort.

Loss of Teeth

If a baby tooth is knocked out in an accident, bring your child to our Middleton, WI office to make sure damage hasn’t occurred in the mouth. Permanent teeth can sometimes grow in before baby teeth have fallen out. In this situation, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk should examine your child to make sure teeth are growing in properly. This can prevent serious issues from arising later in adulthood.

Gum Issues

Bleeding gums could mean several things. They may be an early sign of periodontal disease, which results from poor oral hygiene. Gums may also bleed if a youngster is brushing too hard or has suffered an injury to the gum tissue.

Rinse your child’s mouth with warm salt water and apply pressure to the area if bleeding continues. Don’t hesitate to contact our Middleton, WI office if you are concerned so we can schedule an appointment.

As a parent, you can provide the best education for your children on proper oral hygiene habits. If you some coaching, ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for tips during your next appointment.

Telltale Signs that Your Tooth has a Cavity

March 22nd, 2023

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team at hartstone dental frequently get questions about cavity causes and prevention. You brush twice a day and floss regularly. You rinse with mouthwash, just like the dentist recommended. In fact, you can’t remember the last time you had a cavity, but you think it was when you were a little kid. In all seriousness, you thought only kids got cavities.

The Signs and Symptoms of a Cavity

It’s believed that roughly 90% of North Americans will get at least one cavity in their lifetime. Those other ten percent, it seems, can eat as much pie, cake, and sugary cereals and sweets as they want. That’s not really true; just a stab at dental humor, and it was as bad as the pain your cavity is probably giving you.

When a cavity is in its initial stages, you will often be symptom-free and experience no discomfort at all. It’s not until the tooth decay has reached a certain level that you will begin to notice the signs and symptoms. While a toothache and sensitivity to hot and cold foods and liquids are surefire signs that you have a cavity, there are lesser-known symptoms as well. If you’re experiencing any of these warning signs, you may want to consider making an appointment with our office as soon as possible:

  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • When you bite down, there is a sticky, tarry feeling
  • Puss or discharge around a tooth
  • A visible discoloring, usually black or brown
  • Small pits or holes in the tooth

Routine dental care is important. While good oral hygiene, a healthy diet, and regular cleanings will deter the formation of cavities, they do not constitute a foolproof practice. A cavity can occur at any time, no matter what your age. Bacteria causes tooth decay, and no amount of brushing, flossing, and rinsing will eradicate all the bacteria from your mouth. If you think you may have a cavity, please contact our office immediately.

Interproximal Cavities: The Inside Story

March 15th, 2023

Time to brush! So, you make sure you gently brush the plaque off the outside surfaces of your teeth. You want to present a gleaming smile to the world, after all. And you make sure to brush the inside surfaces as well, because who wants to feel a fuzzy patch of plaque every time their tongue hits their teeth? And, naturally, you remember to clean the tops of your molars, because those crevices make them more cavity-prone than any other surface.

Done? Not quite!

You might be surprised to learn that no matter how well you’ve brushed all the visible surfaces of your teeth, you’ve left quite a bit of enamel untouched—the adjoining, or touching, surfaces of the teeth which sit next to each other.

You’ve probably noticed that your bristles can’t . . . quite . . . reach all the enamel between your teeth (especially between your molars!) when you’re brushing. This means that food particles and plaque have an easier time sticking around. And when the bacteria in plaque are left undisturbed, especially with a banquet of food particles available, they produce acids which gradually eat away at the enamel covering our teeth, creating a cavity.

Here’s where we work in some specific dental vocabulary. “Interproximal” means between the adjoining, or touching, surfaces of the teeth. And an interproximal cavity is a cavity which develops on one of those side surfaces of your teeth.

  • Discovering Interproximal Cavities

Clearly, a cavity between the teeth won’t be as obvious as other cavities. How will you know if a dental appointment is in order?

There are typical symptoms which can show up when you have a cavity. Chewing might be painful. You might feel pain or sensitivity when you eat or drink something which is hot, or cold, or sweet. But pain and/or sensitivity aren’t always present, especially when a cavity is just beginning to develop.

Regular exams are important so you can catch small cavities before they become more serious. That’s why, at your regular dental exams, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will always check for any signs of decay on every surface of each tooth, including those places which aren’t easily visible. And that’s why X-rays can be an important tool for locating these tricky cavities.

  • Treating Interproximal Cavities

If Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team finds a cavity between your teeth, there are different treatment options available depending on the size of the cavity:

  • A typical cavity will require a filling. The decay will be removed, and then the area will be cleaned and filled. You’ll probably choose a filling material which can be matched to your enamel color if the restoration will be noticeable.
  • If decay has spread to the pulp chamber inside the tooth, a root canal is often the best treatment option, with a crown applied afterward to protect the tooth.
  • A tooth so decayed or infected that it cannot be saved might require extraction.

Dealing with any weakness in a tooth as quickly as possible is always better than waiting until a more complicated treatment option is needed. Of course, the best treatment is prevention, and, luckily for us, it’s not a complicated process at all.

  • Preventing Interproximal Cavities

In fact, it’s about as basic as it can be—brush and floss effectively. We recommend brushing for two minutes at least twice a day and flossing once each day. While most of us are good about keeping up with brushing, sometimes that daily flossing is more a goal than a reality.

But it’s flossing which really does the trick when it comes to interproximal cleaning. If you floss correctly, food particles and plaque are removed from between the teeth and around the gumline—places where bristles just can’t reach. The next time you get your teeth cleaned at our Middleton, WI office, ask for tips on how to perfect your technique. And, if you have difficulty flossing, ask about alternatives such as water flossers and interproximal brushes.

Preventing cavities on the exterior surfaces of your teeth is probably pretty much automatic by now, but don’t forget the potential for stealth decay! If Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team find signs of erosion on the sides of your teeth, or if your hygienist lets you know that you’ve got a lot of interproximal plaque buildup, work with us to make sure “interproximal cavity” doesn’t become a working part of your dental vocabulary.

Using Sippy Cups Successfully

March 15th, 2023

Congratulations! Your child is beginning to leave her bottle behind and has started to use her first sippy cup. And the best training cup is one that makes the transition from bottle to cup an efficient, timely, and healthy one.

The Right Training Cup

While a “no spill” cup seems like the perfect choice for toddler and parent alike, those cups are designed much like baby bottles. The same valve in the no-spill top that keeps the liquid from spilling requires your child to suck rather than sip to get a drink. If your child’s cup has a top with a spout, she will learn to sip from it. Two handles and a weighted base make spills less likely.

When to Use a Training Cup

Children can be introduced to a sippy cup before they are one year old, and we suggest phasing out the bottle between the ages of 12 and 24 months. Use a sippy cup as the source for all liquids at that age, and only when your child is thirsty and at mealtime to avoid overdrinking. The transition from sippy cup to regular cup should be a swift one.

Healthy Sipping Habits

The best first option in a sippy cup between meals is water. Milk or juice should be offered at mealtimes, when saliva production increases and helps neutralize the effects of these drinks on young teeth. And don’t let your child go to sleep with anything other than water—falling asleep with a cup filled with milk, juice, or other sugary drinks means these liquids stay in the mouth overnight. Finally, while a sippy cup is convenient and portable, don’t let your young child walk and sip at the same time to avoid injuries.

When your child comes to our Middleton, WI office for her first visit, please bring any questions you might have about training cups. We would be glad to share ways to make the move from bottle to cup both successful and safe!

Take Your Pick!

March 8th, 2023

Before electric toothbrushes, before dental floss, before fluoride rinses, in fact, before recorded history, people who cared about their dental health had one primary tool—the toothpick. Ancient bronze toothpicks, bejeweled Renaissance picks, and the more humble modern wooden picks have been instrumental in promoting dental hygiene for centuries.

And, while that clean, simple design is still a good one, modern technology has found a way to build an even better toothpick. Today’s interdental picks not only dislodge food particles effectively, but now gum stimulation, cleaner orthodontic appliances, and fresher breath are available literally at our fingertips. Most important, these picks are just as effective as floss for removing plaque.

  • Wood? Still Good!

Today’s softer wooden picks come in several shapes designed to fit comfortably and snugly between the teeth. Using a gentle in-and-out motion, you can clean between your teeth as you remove plaque from the tooth surface. But that’s not the only benefit! As you move the wide end of the pick up and down between teeth and gums, you are actually stimulating your gum tissue as well.  They even come with mint flavoring to refresh your mouth as you clean. And, of course, wood and bamboo picks are biodegradable.

  • Plastic? Fantastic!

If you’d like something a little more yielding than wooden dental picks, you have options. Soft dental picks are available that use rubber “bristles” on a plastic stem to gently ease their way between teeth. The heads are available in different diameters to accommodate tight or wide spacing between the teeth. Straight or curved stems provide the accessibility you need. If you have latex allergies, be sure to choose a rubber product that is latex-free.

  • Interproximal Brushes? Here’s What the Buzz Is

You might have missed these miniature brushes in the dental care aisle, but they are worth looking for. Interproximal brushes have small cone-shaped heads with nylon bristles for cleaning food particles and plaque from between the teeth. They are good for more than one use, and some are available with angled or bendable handles for hard-to-reach spots. They come in different diameters, from wide to extremely fine, to suit the spacing of your teeth. Interdental brushes are especially useful for braces wearers, who can use these clever tools to clean tight, tricky areas under wires and around brackets.

Even though bronze, bejeweled, or golden toothpicks aren’t available in the dental aisle of the local drugstore, increased efficiency and function are well worth the trade-off. If for any reason you have trouble flossing, or if you like the idea of massaging your gums as you clean your teeth, or if you wear braces, or if you want a burst of mint flavor—for any number of reasons today’s dental picks are worth a try. Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk at your next visit to our Middleton, WI office, and we’ll be happy to give you some recommendations. 

Is Your Broken Tooth An Emergency?

March 8th, 2023

When you chip a tooth badly, it can be a very nerve-wracking situation. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team want to provide you with some information that can help if you ever suffer a chipped or broken tooth. The most common ways people break their teeth are by biting down on something hard, getting hit in the mouth, falling down, or developing cavities that weaken the tooth and allow it to be broken easily. There are a few things you can do if you find yourself in this situation, however.

First, we recommend that you investigate whether the tooth is partially chipped or completely broken. Unless you are experiencing a lot of pain or bleeding, this should not be treated as an emergency. You may call our office and we will try to schedule an appointment with you as soon as possible. Once we have evaluated the tooth during your appointment, we can start to treat it. For minor chips or cracks, we may simply smooth out the area or fill in the space so the crack doesn’t spread.

If your teeth show severe damage such as a serious break, split tooth, split root, or a decay-induced break, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk may need to take more time to fix the problem. If you need emergency dental care because a tooth has fallen out, call our practice immediately to schedule an appointment for that day. If you’re waiting for an emergency appointment, you can rinse your mouth with warm salt water and apply slight pressure to the area to stop the bleeding. We recommend using an ice pack to reduce swelling, but do not take any aspirin because that may increase the bleeding.

If your tooth has completely fallen out of the socket, hold it by the crown and rinse it under running water. Do not let the tooth become dry; instead, place it in salt water or milk until you get to our office. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will determine whether the broken tooth can be salvaged or will need to be completely replaced.

We know how upsetting it can be to chip or break a tooth, which is why we want to guide you through this process. Most chipped teeth are usually just cosmetic problems, fortunately, but we know that dental emergencies can come up rather suddenly. Be sure to schedule an appointment at our Middleton, WI office as soon as an emergency situation occurs.

Flossing Fact or Flossing Fiction?

March 1st, 2023

Somewhere in a bathroom drawer or medicine cabinet, we all have one—that little plastic dental floss dispenser. And whether you use your floss every day (yay!), or have completely forgotten it was in there (not so good), just how much do you know about that sturdy string? Let’s find out!

  • Flossing has been around for hundreds of years.

FACT: It’s been just over two hundred years since Dr. Levi Spear Parmly, a dentist in New Orleans, suggested his patients use waxed silk thread to clean between their teeth. This is considered the first “official” invention of dental floss, although using some form of tool to get rid of food particles between the teeth has been around since prehistoric times.

  • Brushing well is the same as flossing.

FICTION: It’s really not. While brushing does a great job of cleaning food particles, plaque, and bacteria from your enamel, there are some places those bristles can’t… quite… reach. Floss was designed to clean plaque and food from between the teeth and close to the gum line where your brush doesn’t fit.

  • There’s more than one way to clean between your teeth.

FACT: Indeed there is! Not only are there many varieties of dental floss (waxed, flavored, round, flat, thick, thin, in a dispenser, attached to miniature floss wands), but you have alternatives if using any kind of floss is difficult for you. Water-flossers direct a pulsing stream of water between and around the teeth and gum line to remove food particles and plaque. Another useful alternative is the interproximal brush, a tiny little cone-shaped brush designed to remove food and plaque from those hard-to-reach spots.

  • Flossing helps prevent gum disease.

FACT: Scientific studies haven’t provided definitive answers. But Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team strongly recommend daily flossing as one of the most important things you can do to prevent gum disease. Gingivitis, or mild gum disease, is caused by irritated, inflamed gum tissue. Gum tissue becomes irritated and inflamed as a response to the bacteria, plaque, and tartar, which stick to your teeth. Anything you can do to help remove these irritants will reduce your risk of gum disease.

  • Flossing helps prevent cavities.

FACT: We strongly recommend daily flossing to remove the food particles and plaque, which lead to cavities. Brushing removes cavity-causing plaque from the outer surfaces of your teeth. But there’s a lot of enamel between your teeth as well. Flossing removes plaque from these hidden spots, helping to prevent interproximal (“between the teeth”) cavities from forming.

  • Bleeding when you floss is normal.

FICTION: Bleeding isn’t a typical reaction to flossing. Bleeding gums could be an early sign of gum disease caused by plaque and tartar buildup. On the other hand, if you floss too hard, or go too deeply below the gum line, you can make delicate gum tissue bleed. Ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for tips on perfect flossing technique.

  • You need to floss after every meal.

FICTION: Dental professionals generally recommend brushing twice a day and flossing at least once each day. But this suggestion comes with some exceptions. If you have braces, your orthodontist might recommend flossing after eating. And certainly, for removing pesky food particles, flossing or interdental picks are a sensible choice after any meal.

  • Your dentist will never know that you haven’t been flossing.

FICTION: Nope. Sure, you can miss flossing a few times and catch up before your appointment at our Middleton, WI office. But built-up plaque between the teeth, red, swollen, or bleeding gums, and gingivitis and interproximal cavities let both you and Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk know that you’ve been neglecting good dental habits.

  • It’s never too late to start flossing!

FACT: Flossing is a simple, quick, and inexpensive way to maintain tooth and gum health. If you haven’t had much luck flossing in the past, ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for flossing tools and techniques that will work for your specific needs. Start now, and see what a difference it will make at your next checkup!

If you had all these flossing facts at your fingertips, congratulations! But if you didn’t, no need to worry, because the real test of your knowledge is in its application. Flossing properly at least once each day will give you something far more rewarding than blog-quiz kudos—you’ll see that regular flossing rewarded with healthier teeth and gums!

What Are Dental Sealants?

March 1st, 2023

You’re constantly playing defense. Your child spends two minutes in the morning and two minutes at night carefully brushing and flossing with a fluoride toothpaste. You make sure sugary and acidic foods are not a major part of your diets. Your child visits our Middleton, WI office for regular exams and cleanings. Really, how can a cavity get past all that?

But even with the best defensive practices, you don’t have a level playing field—literally. The tops of our molars and premolars don’t have the smooth, easy-to-clean surfaces that our other teeth have. If you look at the chewing surfaces, you will notice deep grooves which toothbrush bristles have a much harder time reaching.  

Plaque and food particles can become trapped in these grooves (known as pits and fissures), providing perfect conditions for a cavity to develop. That is why cavities are so common in newly erupted molars. Dental sealants protect these teeth from cavities by providing a barrier which smooths out the surface of the tooth and prevents food and bacteria from reaching the molar’s crevices.

Most sealants are invisible plastic resin coatings which we apply in our Middleton, WI office. Usually the procedure is so quick and easy that no dental anesthetic is required. Each tooth will be examined first. If we find any signs of early decay, we will gently treat that area before beginning.

When the tooth is ready, it will be cleaned and dried. An etching solution will be brushed on to the dry surface to roughen the area a bit so that the sealant will hold to the tooth more effectively. A thin coat of the sealant is then painted on and hardened under a curing light. And that’s it!

Once teeth are sealed, they should be cleaned and flossed just as carefully as before. Regular exams and cleanings are still very important, and we can monitor the condition of the sealant and the sealed teeth. Properly applied, sealants can last from three to five years, or even longer.

Who should consider sealants? Sealants are typically recommended when the permanent molars first erupt. Children’s enamel takes a while to become its strongest, and so these just-erupted teeth are more at risk for cavities. Sometimes Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will recommend sealants for primary (baby) teeth if needed. But even adults can benefit—talk to us if you are interested and we will let you know if sealants might be right for you.

Sealants are a simple, safe, and minimally invasive way to prevent cavities. Studies of sealed molars and premolars show a dramatic reduction in cavities compared to untreated teeth. Sealants are one of the most effective ways to defend your teeth or your children’s teeth from tooth decay. And as we’ve all heard—defense wins championships!

My child has canker sores! How can I help?

February 22nd, 2023

According to the American Association of Pediatric Density, roughly one in five children suffers from canker sores. Canker sores are small sores that appear inside the cheeks, on the lips, on the surface of the gums, and under the tongue.

Even though, canker sores are not contagious, they do tend to run in families. There are several reasons your child may be suffering from canker sores including:

  • Children who have Vitamin B12, iron, and folic acid deficiencies tend to get canker sores more often than children who have normal levels of these vitamins and minerals.
  • Children who suffer from food allergies are also at a higher risk for developing canker sores. It’s difficult to determine what your child may be allergic to. If you feel strongly that the canker sores are related to an allergy, then a visit to an allergist is highly recommended.
  • Biting their lip or cheek can also result in a canker sore.
  • Any injury to mouth, where the skin breaks can cause a canker sore.
  • Brushing their teeth too hard can also be a problem.
  • Your child may be sensitive to an ingredient in their toothpaste. Try switching toothpastes and see if it makes a difference.
  • Emotional disturbances and stress are also factors to consider.

If your child has frequent canker sores a visit to our Middleton, WI office will be beneficial. Canker sores are painful and usually last about 14 days. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk may recommend one or a few of the following treatment options:

  • Avoid food that is acidic, salty, and spicy.
  • A toothbrush with soft bristles may be helpful.
  • Avoid mouthwash and toothpaste that contain SLS.
  • Do not feed your child foods that they may be allergic to.

Canker Sore Remedies

  • Eating yogurt that contains Acidophilus will relieve the pain and help the canker sore heal faster.
  • Put one teaspoon of baking soda in an eight-ounce glass of lukewarm water. Have your child gargle and swish it around his or her mouth several times a day. Not only does this remedy relieve the pain, the canker sore could be gone in as little as 24 hours.
  • Place a wet tea bag on the sore and hold it there for a few minutes several times a day. This remedy will help with the pain and quickly heal the sore.
  • Camphor, Benzocaine, Lidocaine, and Orajel are over-the-counter medications that can help.

If you have questions about your child’s canker sore, contact Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk to schedule an appointment.

Dental Emergency? Don’t Panic, We’re Here to Help

February 22nd, 2023

Nobody can predict a dental emergency. That’s what makes them so terribly inconvenient. The good news is that our office is always available to assist you, so there’s no reason you should minimize an emergency.

Among the most common emergencies we see are lost fillings, lost crowns, and broken dentures. Lost fillings and lost crowns are very similar. A key difference, however, is that fillings are used to repair cavities but crowns are used to cover broken or damaged teeth.

Over time, it’s not uncommon for fillings and crowns to grow loose and fall out. If you lose a crown or a filling, hot or cold temperatures will likely begin to trigger pain because of the exposed tissue. The discomfort might seem manageable, but it’s better to get these situations fixed as soon as possible so you can avoid getting food stuck or developing an infection.

Unlike a busted filling or crown, a broken denture is more likely to make itself known constantly, every day. It can make chewing, swallowing, and eating properly difficult. Depending on the damage, you may require a new denture altogether.

If you’re experiencing any problems with your dentures, or suspect that they might be broken, it’s best to contact our Middleton, WI office immediately to avoid further damage. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team are always here to help, especially when your dental health is at risk.

These things happen, so don’t feel embarrassed and please don’t hesitate to give us a call as soon as you notice or suspect something’s wrong! Get in touch with us … the sooner the better.

Medication Can Lead To Xerostomia in Women

February 15th, 2023

Xerostomia, otherwise known as dry mouth, can be a side effect of many common medications. Drugs used for blood pressure, birth control, antidepressants, or cancer treatments may cause the dry mouth problems you’re experiencing. When you have dry mouth, you’re more likely to experience tooth decay and an increased risk of developing periodontal disease. Medication can sometimes be the cause of dry mouth in women, and lead to an increased amount of cavities.

You may not develop a cavity for years, but suddenly find more than one when you’re on medication for several months. This is due to there being less saliva in your mouth, which normally prevents bacteria from flourishing. When there is a lack of saliva flow, your mouth will be more likely to host tooth decay and be more prone to gum disease.

You may not notice it, but birth control can lead to inflammation of the gums and bleeding because of dry mouth. The condition can also emerge if you’ve undergone cancer treatments such as radiation, because your saliva glands may be damaged in the process.

Boosting saliva production is critical for treating xerostomia. Many over-the-counter saliva products are designed to help manage dry mouth. For women with severe cases of dry mouth and decay, we may recommend in-home fluoride treatments that offer extra enamel protection. This can come in the form of fluoride trays, prescription toothpaste, or a special fluoride rinse.

Other ways to relieve dry mouth include chewing sugar-free gum, limiting caffeine intake, avoiding mouthwashes that contain alcohol, sipping water regularly, using a humidifier at night, and stopping all tobacco use.

If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of dry mouth, contact our Middleton, WI office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk. It’s wise to take medications that have been prescribed by your doctor, but it’s also smart to watch for any side effects. If you think a medication is causing you to have dry mouth, let’s figure out how to manage your symptoms as a team!

Snack Attack

February 15th, 2023

Should a quick bite between meals make us feel guilty? Or worse, make our teeth suffer a greater risk of cavities? Let’s avoid both those possibilities! We have several tooth-healthy snacking strategies designed to help you keep your enamel cavity-free while preventing snacker’s remorse.

But first, a word or two about why we may find snacking unappetizing.

  • Please, Don’t Feed the Bacteria!

The bacteria in plaque feed on sugars and leave acidic waste products behind. These acids attack enamel, dissolving the calcium and phosphorus minerals that keep it strong. Weakened enamel leaves teeth vulnerable to decay. That’s why Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our Middleton, WI team recommend avoiding a steady diet of sugary treats.

Even if you’re not reaching for a soda, or grabbing a candy bar, many snack foods are filled with added sugars. Check the nutritional labels before you indulge to avoid sugar surprises.

  • Off Balance?

Bacteria plus sugar equals more acidic conditions in the mouth. This change in the oral pH balance also reduces our natural defenses against cavity-causing acids.

A well-balanced oral environment depends on saliva to keep acids in check. Saliva washes away lingering food particles after meals, and it neutralizes acidic conditions in the mouth over the course of the day.

How does snacking interfere? Immediately after eating or drinking, acids in saliva increase. It takes about 20 minutes for saliva’s neutralizing process to begin. When we snack throughout the day, saliva doesn’t have a chance to reduce acids as long or as effectively.

  • Staying Power

Sticky and chewy snacks tend to stick to the tops of molars and between the teeth. This gives bacteria more fuel and more time to attack tooth enamel. It’s not just candies that are the culprits here. Chips, bread, pizza crusts, pastries—these simple carbs stick to teeth and break down easily into sugars.

But we promised some *positive* strategic snacking ideas. Here are some ways to make sure that snacking doesn’t put you at a much greater risk for cavities.

  • Be Choosy

Avoid processed treats that are high in added sugars. If you’re craving something sweet, fresh fruits provide sweetness with vitamins included.

Crispy fruits such as apples and Bosc pears, as well as vegetables like celery and carrots, provide gentle scrubbing action to help clean teeth between brushings.

Snacking on cheese helps neutralize acids, and other dairy products are high in calcium and phosphorus, helping rebuild the minerals that acids leach out of enamel.

Eat whole grain breads, pastas, and pastries. They offer more nutrients, and don’t break down into sugars as easily.

Finally, when it’s time to indulge in a sugar-rich treat, save it for a meal. There’s a better chance that other foods will balance the acids created by sugar, and you’ll be getting the most out of saliva’s neutralizing abilities. Speaking of which,

  • Stay Neutral

When you’re craving something flavorful without giving bacteria more fuel for acid production, consider sugar-free gum. Sugar-free gum saves you from adding sugar to your diet, and it increases saliva production as you chew. If we give you the all-clear, chewing a piece or two of gum during the day can help curb your sugar cravings and protect your enamel.

Thirsty? Drink water instead of sodas or energy drinks with your snacks. Water washes away food particles, cuts down on acidity, and provides fluoride to strengthen and protect teeth.

  • To Brush or Not to Brush?

It’s always a good idea to brush after eating. But since eating sugary or acidic foods can leave enamel vulnerable to toothbrush abrasion, many dentists recommend waiting 30 minutes after you snack before brushing. Ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk what’s best for your teeth.

If you can’t brush, rinse with water after eating or drinking.

If you wear braces or aligners, be sure to check with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about snacking, gum, best times to brush, and any other diet questions.

Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about your snacking habits. Learning when and how to snack is as important as deciding what to snack on. Finding the perfect balance means you can enjoy a mid-day energy boost without guilt—and without risking tooth decay!

Good Oral Health Habits When You’re Pregnant

February 8th, 2023

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team at hartstone dental will tell you that good oral health habits when you are pregnant are very important. A plaque or infectious buildup can affect the baby in gestation, and cause some unforeseen issues during birth. There are a few steps relating to oral health that can help prevent complications and other pregnancy issues. Here are a few things to consider about oral health when you are expecting.

Proper brushing

Brushing your teeth at least twice a day is essential when you are pregnant. This will peel away any buildup that you have on your teeth, and help create a shield against future buildup. Swallowing large amounts of plaque or bacterial buildup can and will affect the gestation of the fetus, and can cause certain complications.

Floss

Flossing will also help remove a lot of the buildup in your teeth that can promote infection. Make sure you floss at least once a day. Bacterial infections fester on food buildup, and certain destructive viruses can also breed and grow on these remnants.

Morning sickness

The acidity of vomit can erode the enamel on your teeth, and create buildup of damaging particulates in your teeth. If you are experiencing regular morning sickness, rinse your teeth with a mixture of baking soda and water. This will remove buildup, and alleviate some of the acidity from the vomit.

Alcohol-free, antimicrobial mouthwash

Regardless of whether you are trying to or not, you will swallow small amounts of your mouthwash. Alcohol can affect your gestating baby. Use an antimicrobial, alcohol-free mouthwash.

Visit the dentist

If you have any dental issues, please give us a call at our convenient Middleton, WI office away. We will be able to diagnose and treat any oral health issues immediately, and make sure they do not affect your developing child. Protecting your baby includes protecting your oral health.

Tooth Sensitivity

February 8th, 2023

Most of us know that unpleasant feeling. You’re happily enjoying an icy milkshake with lunch or having a piping hot cappuccino break, and suddenly an innocent binge turns to cringe—your tooth sensitivity has crossed another item off the menu. If heat, cold, even the act of brushing cause you tooth discomfort, we have solutions for you. Let’s look at some of the common reasons for tooth sensitivity and how to prevent it.

  • Bad Brushing Habits

There can be too much of a good thing! Aggressive brushing, especially with firm toothbrushes, can damage enamel. When the dentin underneath is exposed, heat and cold can reach the sensitive inner tooth and trigger discomfort.

Go easy on yourself: Switch to a soft bristled or electric toothbrush and brush thoroughly but gently. It’s often suggested that we massage rather than scrub. We can also recommend toothpastes that can help reduce sensitivity.

  • Gum Disease

As gum disease progresses, the gums start to pull away from the teeth and expose their roots. Even though the roots are protected by cementum, a covering a lot like enamel, they are more sensitive to heat and cold. And if you are an aggressive brusher, the cementum is more easily damaged than enamel, leaving the sensitive roots even less protected.

Prevention is the answer: Brushing and flossing help prevent gum disease, as do your regular exams and cleanings. If you are suffering from more advanced gum disease (periodontitis), Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can suggest advanced treatment to protect your roots, such as deep cleanings and gum grafts. Don’t let periodontitis go untreated, as it can lead to infection and even tooth loss.

  • Your Diet

If your enamel is already compromised, sugary foods and acidic foods can cause tooth discomfort.

Be patient: Until your sensitivity problem is under control, avoiding these types of foods will help. On the other hand, sugary and acidic foods aren’t the ideal dental diet, so cutting back is not a bad idea.

  • Your Dental Products

Mouthwash, whitening toothpastes and home whitening products contain substances such as alcohol or bleaching agents that can cause sensitivity in some users.

Make some changes to your shopping list: Choose products without alcohol or whiteners. Talk to us about gentler alternatives for mouthwashes and whitening.

  • Tooth Injuries

If you have a cavity, a broken filling, a cracked tooth, or some other injury to the tooth, sensitivity can be a warning sign.

Take care of yourself: Call our Middleton, WI office immediately if you have prolonged sensitivity or any other painful symptom. Repairing and restoring your damaged tooth should eliminate this discomfort. And, while it is often common to experience some degree of sensitivity after dental work, if this doesn’t clear up within a short time, let us know.

  • Teeth Grinding

Because grinding also wears away enamel, tooth grinders often suffer from sensitive teeth.

Protect yourself: We can fit you for a custom nightguard that will eliminate the nightly stress on your enamel. It can also help the tooth and jaw pain caused by grinding.

Talk to us about any sensitivity you have been experiencing, especially if it has been going on for a while or is causing you real discomfort. We will explore the possible reasons for your tooth sensitivity and help you find solutions. After all, you should feel free to enjoy any item on the menu, in the very best of dental health.

Warning Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

February 1st, 2023

You might suspect that your wisdom teeth are starting to emerge, but knowing the signs of impacted wisdom teeth can help you be more proactive about your dental care. Impacted wisdom teeth can be extremely painful and can make your life truly miserable until they are removed. Therefore, looking for the early warning signs listed below, and seeing Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk if you experience them, can help you conquer the problem before it conquers you.

There are three primary signs of impacted wisdom teeth. While every person may not have all three of these signs, you can usually expect to experience at least one of these if your wisdom teeth are impacted.

Unusual Pain

If you are feeling a type of teeth pain you've never felt before, especially when it is focused in the back area of your jaw, this may be a sign that you have a tooth impaction. You may be fortunate enough to catch it early, before all of your wisdom teeth become impacted, if you see Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk as soon as you feel the pain.

Swollen Jaw

If your jaw is suddenly swollen and the area feels tender to the touch, you have a high chance of having an impacted tooth. Since the wisdom teeth are set so far back in your jaw, the swelling tends to show itself low in the jaw, towards the ears, when they are impacted.

Bleeding Gums

If your gums are bleeding, something you may notice when you see a pink or red tinged toothbrush, you may be dealing with a wisdom tooth issue. When the wisdom teeth are impacted, they put a lot of pressure on your back teeth and gums, which often leads to bleeding.

Visit our Middleton, WI office as soon as possible if you have any of the above signs of impacted wisdom teeth. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner the pain will be behind you for good!

Let's Talk About Your Roots!

January 25th, 2023

You’ve learned a lot from your dentist and your family about how to take care of your teeth. You brush and floss, you wear a mouthguard when you’re active, and you have regular checkups and cleanings at our Middleton, WI office.

And everything you’re doing is wonderful! The smile you see each day in the mirror reflects your hard work.

But what about the part of your smile you can’t see? Let’s take a look beneath the surface, and talk about your roots.

While our teeth look solid from the outside, there’s really a lot going on inside each tooth.

  • The outside of every tooth is covered with a hard protective surface.

Enamel is the hardest material in our bodies, and covers the crown. This is the part of the tooth we can see above our gums.

Our roots are hidden below our gums, and are covered with cementum instead of enamel. Cementum is hard, but it’s not nearly as strong as enamel.

  • Just below a tooth’s enamel and cementum layers, we have dentin.

Dentin is a hard tissue, only a little softer than enamel. Most of our tooth is made of dentin. It surrounds and helps protect the center of the tooth and supports the enamel and cementum on the outside.

  • Inside the center of each tooth, there’s an area called the pulp chamber.

The pulp holds tiny blood vessels and nerves. The blood vessels give the pulp nutrients, and the nerves are the reason that our teeth can feel sensitivity or pain.

Inside the roots, we also find pulp in the root canals. These canals are very small tunnels that run from the pulp chamber down through the root, ending in a tiny hole in the tip of the root. Blood vessels and nerves running through the canals connect the pulp tissue to our bodies’ blood and nervous systems.

Around your roots, there’s a lot going on, too. Smaller teeth like the incisors, our front teeth, usually have only one root. Bigger teeth, like molars, usually have two or three roots. And while you’re busy biting and chewing, what’s holding these roots in place?

  • In your jaws, you have a spot where each tooth fits called a socket. But your tooth roots don’t just sit in the socket. That wouldn’t be very secure!
  • Instead, you have a periodontal ligament surrounding the roots of each tooth. Think of the ligament as groups of tissue fibers that can attach to both the cementum on your root and the bone in your jaw. This double attachment holds your teeth firmly in place. The ligament also helps cushion your teeth from the heavy pressures of chewing.
  • To make things even safer for your roots, your gums help cover them and protect them from bacteria and decay.

As you can see, your body is working hard to protect your roots. What’s the best thing you can do to keep your roots healthy? Do everything you’re already doing!

  • Keep up with your brushing and flossing, and your visits to our office. These good habits protect the teeth and gums you can see, and also the roots that you can’t see.
  • Avoid oral habits that put lots of pressure on your teeth and roots. Biting down on pencils, or ice, or nut shells, or anything not meant for regular eating means you’re risking a cracked tooth.
  • Be safe! Wear your mouthguard when you’re active.
  • Don’t wait to tell your adult if your tooth hurts. Remember, those nerves inside your teeth and roots are there to warn you if your tooth is damaged. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will be able to find out what’s wrong and have you feeling better in no time.

Even though you can’t see them, your roots are one important reason you have your beautiful smile. Taking good care of your teeth now is a way to make sure you have beautiful, healthy smiles for a lifetime!

Does chronic stress impact periodontal health?

January 25th, 2023

Many studies over the past several years have focused on this question. Since we will all face stressful situations during our life, it is a good question to ask. This question also delves into the mind-body connection—the psychological having an effect on the physical and vice versa.

Studies were performed as far back as the 1940s and continue today. Many of them have shown that stress "downregulates" or hinders cellular immune response. The most common periodontal diseases related to this stress-induced downregulation are gingivitis and periodontitis.

It is believed that stress and depression contribute to a state of chronic inflammation within the body. Stress also raises levels of cortisol in your body, which has been linked in studies to higher levels of tooth loss and deeper pockets between the gums and teeth.

Perhaps the biological side of this equation makes sense, but an important factor is that people who are stressed and/or depressed tend to neglect oral hygiene and other health-promoting activities. The studies seem to support both the behavioral and biological effects as risk factors for periodontal disease.

Here are some things you can do to help prevent stress-related periodontal problems:

  • Daily relaxation –You may consider meditation or yoga. Both have been proven effective at easing stress.
  • Practice good oral hygiene – Don't let your oral hygiene fall by the wayside. Doing so will obviously have a detrimental effect on your oral health. You should also aim to quit smoking if you do smoke.
  • Get regular dental checkups – Getting regular checkups will help you to spot anything that's amiss before it gets out of hand. You can speak with your dentist if you have any pain or concerns and have them take a look.

Stress is something that affects all of us but it can be managed. Each one of us may manage it in a different way. Find what works for you and always make sure to keep up with your oral hygiene routine. For more information about stress-related periodontal issues, schedule an appointment with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk at our Middleton, WI office.

Stress and Your Oral Health

January 18th, 2023

Stress symptoms—which include high blood pressure, severe aches, and insomnia—may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is the culprit when in fact stress may actually be the reason. While stress can be good for us sometimes, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team know stress can be physically harmful. But what is often overlooked is that stress can also take a toll on your mouth. Here’s how:

Teeth Grinding

It’s not uncommon for people dealing with stress to develop teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. People who grind their teeth at night may do so unconsciously, but the condition requires treatment to prevent the development of headaches, TMJ, and tooth damage. If you’re a night-grinder, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk. We may recommend a night guard.

Mouth Sores

Research suggests stress and depression harm your immune system, making it easier for infections to develop and stick around. That can mean canker sores or a cold sore outbreak. If mouth sores are a recurring problem for you, give us a call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk.

Bad Habits

Stress can lead to bad oral health habits such as smoking, drinking, and neglecting your daily brushing and flossing routine. If you’ve been feeling under pressure lately, try to keep up with your oral health routine—it will serve you well when your stress levels return to normal.

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team at hartstone dental know there’s not always an easy way to reduce your stress levels, but eating healthy, exercising regularly, and spending time with friends and family are all good places to start.

What causes tooth loss?

January 11th, 2023

When children lose baby teeth, it’s a time to rejoice. But when adults suffer from tooth loss, it may be a sign of a serious problem. That’s when it’s time to give us a call at hartstone dental.

What are the reasons for missing teeth?

The loss of permanent teeth can occur for a variety of reasons, ranging anywhere from hereditary factors to tooth decay to traumatic injury. Here are the following reasons why adults suffer tooth loss:

  • Gum disease: The number one cause of lost teeth in adults is gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, an infection of the structures that support the teeth. Once gum disease reaches and destroys the alveolar bone, the teeth begin to loosen and will eventually fall out or need to be extracted.
  • Tooth decay: If cavities are left untreated, they can destroy tooth structure as well as cause infection in the supporting bone.
  • Tooth injury: An injury can either knock out a tooth immediately or cause damage to the root or pulp that will later require extraction. We recommend using a mouthguard if you play sports.
  • Tooth fracture: A fracture in a tooth is often caused by teeth grinding, or what Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team call bruxism. A crown may be the answer, but depending on the location of the crack or fracture and how deeply it extends, the tooth may not respond well to repair with a crown and may need to be extracted instead.

What are the risk factors for tooth loss?

  • Poor oral hygiene: Patients who only occasionally brush or floss their teeth are more likely to develop tartar, plaque buildup, and other bacteria that cause decay.
  • Not visiting the dentist: Seeing Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk every six months for a cleaning and checkup prevents any developing oral health issues, as well as ensures that plaque and tartar do not build up over time.
  • Smoking: Smokers and users of smokeless tobacco are more likely to develop periodontal disease that can cause tooth loss. If you are a smoker it is crucial to visit us on a timely schedule.
  • Various health conditions: Patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other chronic health issues are more likely to suffer from gum disease.

Scheduling an appointment with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk at our Middleton, WI office will give you an accurate diagnosis and a variety of treatment options. It’s important to know that periodontal disease is “silent,” meaning you will not always experience pain as a signal of infection. When caught early, treatments are usually successful.

Give us a call today to schedule your next visit!

Diabetes and Dental Care

January 11th, 2023

Diabetes is a disease that affects the health of the entire body, including, of course, your mouth, gums, and teeth. We are trained to look for issues that might arise in our patients with diabetes, and are eager to help you maintain your dental health. What do we consider in order to give you the best treatment?

Your Teeth

Dry mouth can be a problem for diabetic patients, whether caused by blood sugar levels or medication, and this condition can lead to tooth decay. When we produce saliva, it not only helps wash away sugar in our mouths, it also helps remove the acids sugars produce which attack our enamel and lead to cavities.

Your Gums

People with diabetes are at higher risk for gum disease. With diabetes, the body is more susceptible to infection and finds it harder to fight bacteria. Early gum disease, called gingivitis, is inflammation caused by the body’s reaction to bacteria. Periodontitis, serious gum disease, leads to infections that can cause bone and tooth loss.

Other Oral Concerns

Dry mouth can lead to mouth ulcers, oral thrush, sores, and infections. And oral infections of any kind can be slower to heal when you have diabetes. We will give careful attention to any concerns you might have for your oral health, and will work with you to prevent any future problems.

Preventive dental care is important for all our patients, and we have special suggestions for you to help maintain your dental health and reduce the possibility of dental complications. Diabetes can lead to oral problems, and oral infections can in turn cause problems with controlling blood sugar, so a healthy mouth can lead to better health in general.

  • Home Care

If dry mouth is a problem, talk to us about possible causes and treatments. Hydrate throughout the day, and avoid foods or beverages that lead to dehydration. Talk to us about the best products for use at home to prevent dry mouth.

Brush and floss after meals to reduce the presence of harmful bacteria and prevent the plaque buildup that leads to gum disease.

Above all, monitor your blood sugar carefully to ensure your body is at its best when combatting infection or when healing.

  • Professional Dental Care

Be sure to visit our Middleton, WI office at least twice a year for a full examination and a professional cleaning. We can reduce the plaque that leads to gingivitis and more serious periodontal infection. We can monitor your oral health and recommend solutions for problems such as dry mouth. We will make your appointments based on what is best for your schedule. If any type of oral surgery is needed, we will schedule it with an understanding of the importance of healthy blood sugar levels for healing and recovery.

It’s important to make Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk part of your health support system. If you have diabetes, let us know. We will work with you to monitor the well-being of your teeth and gums and to suggest ways to promote your overall oral health. Let’s work together for healthy, happy smiles!

How do I overcome my dental anxiety?

January 4th, 2023

Do you feel anxious before every dentist appointment? If the answer is yes, you are not alone—more than 75 percent of Americans feel anxious when visiting their dentist. Today, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team thought we would provide some tips to reduce your stress about visiting our Middleton, WI office.

The first thing we want you to do is plan ahead. If at all possible, book an appointment at a time when you know you won’t be in a rush to get somewhere else, such as picking up your children from school or an important meeting at the office. We also recommend you avoid caffeine and sugar prior to your visit as too much of either can make you feel even more anxious, not to mention jittery.

Once you’re here at our office, take some slow, deep breaths to relax. Then, try to relax your muscles by sitting back comfortably. If you are still feeling anxious, let Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk or someone on our team know. We deal with nervous patients all the time and may have additional relaxation techniques for you to try. If you’d like, we also encourage you to bring headphones and listen to music of your choice to distract yourself while we work on your teeth.

If you have additional questions about relaxation techniques, or would like to schedule an appointment, please give us a call!

Improve Your Overall Health with Regular Cleanings

January 4th, 2023

It’s common knowledge that you should get your teeth cleaned every six months. But do you know why that timing is crucial? Studies have shown that your oral health connects directly to the rest of your body. Over time, an unhealthy mouth can cause trouble in other parts of your general system.

Undergoing a regular cleaning every six months at our Middleton, WI office is vital. During your dental checkups, we remove plaque that collects on your teeth and around your gums. If the plaque gets left in place for an extended period, inflammation can develop and may lead to painful gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontal disease.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontal disease has been linked to increased risk for health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, inflammation, and osteoporosis. Bacteria from your mouth can spread throughout the rest of your body. So a healthy mouth leads to a healthy body.

Regular checkups can prevent issues from arising in your mouth if problems are caught early by Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk. If you have been avoiding the dentist, you could be making issues worse for yourself in the long haul. Generally, a dentist will go over a few routine matters during your checkup. They might include taking X-rays, checking for gum disease and tooth decay, examining your bite, inspecting your head and neck for swelling, and of course performing a thorough cleaning of your teeth and gums to remove built-up plaque and tartar. All of these routine practices are worthwhile when it comes to keeping your oral health in top shape.

Now that you know the importance of getting your teeth checked every six months, you should be sure to schedule your next appointment with hartstone dental at our Middleton, WI location. Keeping your mouth healthy will prevent any form of bacteria from spreading to the rest of your body. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your oral health, don’t hesitate to call and our staff will be happy to assist you.

Diastema, or, Mind the Gap!

December 28th, 2022

Diastema is a medical term meaning “space between”—or what Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team less formally call a gap between the teeth. Such gaps are common for children as they make the transition from baby teeth to adult teeth, and usually close when all the permanent teeth arrive. But not always!

Sometimes a gap, usually between the upper front teeth, stays with you into adulthood, but doesn’t affect your perfectly heathy teeth. Sometimes a diastema develops due to medical conditions or trauma. Whether you would like to close a gap for cosmetic reasons, or need to address gaps that have developed because of dental problems, your treatment will depend on the causes of the diastema.

  • The Relationship of Jaws and Teeth

Most of the time, we think of braces as straightening crooked teeth. For many braces wearers, the jaw can’t accommodate all of the adult teeth without crowding. But it’s also possible to have too much space for incoming teeth, and this can lead to a gap between two or more teeth. Orthodontic treatment is a common choice to close this kind of gap, using braces or clear aligners to move the teeth closer together.

  • Prominent Labial Frenulum

The labial frenulum is a band of muscular tissue that connects the upper lip and the top of the gums. If it is too large, tissue can extend beyond the top of the front teeth. A gap develops when the front teeth simply can’t meet because of the tissue between them.  Oral surgery can reduce the size of the frenulum, if necessary, and often orthodontic treatment is the go-to option to close the diastema.

  • Small Teeth or Small Gap

Occasionally, a few teeth are noticeably smaller than their neighbors. Bonding, veneers, and crowns can be used to enlarge these teeth, making them proportionate to the teeth around them. These treatments can also be successful in reducing a gap between the front teeth.

  • Missing Teeth

Sometimes people are born missing a tooth. Sometimes people lose a tooth to injury or decay. And while the space left by a missing or lost tooth is a noticeable gap in itself, the remaining teeth can shift to fill the void, causing other gaps to develop as well. A dental implant or bridge can both replace a missing tooth and maintain the normal spacing of the teeth that surround it.

  • Gum Disease

Left untreated, periodontitis (gum disease) can damage or even destroy the bone tissue which holds and supports the teeth. This, in turn, leads to “tooth mobility,” or loose teeth. Spaces between the teeth become more noticeable and larger over time. After the gum disease is treated, patient and dentist can explore options for reducing or eliminating spaces between the teeth.

  • Harmful Oral Habits

Tongue thrusting and thumb sucking are two habits that can affect the alignment of the front teeth. Both behaviors pressure the teeth to move forward, which can cause separations between them. Learning how to change these behaviors will help prevent or stop the expansion of a diastema and potentially serious malocclusions (bad bites).

If you would like to discuss your diastema for aesthetic reasons, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for ways to reduce or eliminate the gap. If your diastema is the result of a medical condition, we will be able to recommend treatment options available at our Middleton, WI office. If you’re teeth and gums are healthy, and you enjoy the individuality of your diastema . . .

  • Embrace the Space!

A diastema can be a signature look for you and your smile. Normal brushing, flossing, and regular dental care will keep your smile bright, healthy, and uniquely you. And if you’re happy, healthy, and confidant, why, there’s no reason to mind the gap at all!

Questions on Dental Implants? We’ve Got You Covered.

December 28th, 2022

Whether you’ve lost a tooth from decay, are preparing for dentures, or were born with a gap where a tooth should have been, you could be a candidate for dental implants.

Dental implants have changed a lot since their debut in 1965, thanks to continuing advances in design and technology. Today, you no longer have to worry about whether dental implants might have a negative aesthetic impact on your smile.

So what are dental implants? Pretty much what they sound like: An implant is a replacement tooth that substitutes for a missing natural one. It gets placed through several steps; it’s a process that can take a few months.

The initial step involves the surgical implantation of the implant root, which resembles a small screw. After that’s placed, the top is covered with gum tissue to enable it to heal faster. This is an essential phase in the process, since this portion of the implant will serve as the base of support for everything else.

In the second step, the implant gets uncovered and an implant restoration (or crown) is created and affixed to it. After that, you’ve got yourself a new tooth!

While dental implants require a little special care, it’s all easily manageable. All you have to do at home is make sure you brush and floss your implant daily, the same as you would for any other tooth. Although an implant can’t develop a cavity, if something were to get stuck in it, that could lead to a gum infection.

If you have any other questions about dental implants, give our Middleton, WI office a call!

Caring for Your Night Guard

December 21st, 2022

You might have experienced painful morning headaches. Or have a partner or housemate who begged you to please keep those grinding noises down at night. Or perhaps you were unhappily surprised to find that your teeth had mysteriously become worn, loose, or cracked.

So you made an appointment at our Middleton, WI office. And you learned that you needed a night guard designed to protect your teeth from the damage done by night time bruxism—that grinding and clenching which is hard on enamel, bad for teeth, and painful for jaws. Good work!

Your night guard prevents your teeth from making contact, saving teeth and enamel from injury. It distributes the pressure placed on your teeth, muscles, and bones when your jaws clench through the night. Bonus: it can reduce nocturnal noises caused by grinding.

Guards are available over-the-counter in general sizes, or a custom night guard can be created for you by Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk. Custom guards are uniquely fitted to your teeth and jaw, and last longer than over-the-counter models. Whichever kind of appliance you choose, daily care is a must for a long and healthy partnership.

To make sure you get the best and longest use from your night guard, there are some easy steps to keep it in top shape when it’s off-duty.

  • Keep It Clean

Plaque and bacteria can build up on your night guard just as they can on your tooth enamel. Rinse your guard in the morning and brush it gently. Ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about using toothpaste, because toothpastes, especially abrasive toothpastes, can scratch your appliance. And don’t forget to clean your case!

Every week, or as directed, your night guard will benefit from a more serious cleaning. Follow the instructions for your appliance, whether it’s using cleaning tablets, a soaking solution, or another recommended cleanser. Your dentist can suggest how, how long, and how often to treat your night guard to a deep cleaning, because using the wrong products or cleaning methods can damage it.

  • Keep It Dry

Putting a damp night guard into a closed case, even a ventilated one, provides an ideal setting for bacteria growth. Before you put your guard away, give it time to air-dry on a clean surface.

  • Keep It Safe

Once your guard is clean and dry, make sure it keeps its shape and stays intact by keeping it in its clean, dry case when you’re not using it. Night guards and their cases are no fans of sun, extreme heat, very hot water, or (gulp!) dishwashers. A misshapen, melted, or broken night guard should not be used. If your night guard is damaged, it’s time to call us.

Spending just a moment or two each day caring for your night guard will result in a long-lasting appliance and many hours of healthy and comfortable sleep. Your night guard is protecting you. Be sure to return the favor for a long and healthy dental partnership.

Sleep Apnea: What a Dentist Can Do

December 21st, 2022

You find yourself drowsy and irritable all day. Or you have trouble sleeping, and when you do, you snore loudly throughout the night punctuated with silent pauses where you aren’t breathing at all. Or your loved ones tell you that you’ve been keeping them awake with your snoring or frightening them awake when you gasp for breath. Whatever symptom may have brought you to the doctor, you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, and now it’s time to get this sleep disorder under control.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tissue in the back of the throat relaxes, partially blocking the airway, or structural problems in the mouth and throat (such as enlarged tonsils or tongue) obstruct air flow. The tissue around the air passage vibrates with every breath causing those annoying snoring sounds. More dangerous, an obstructed airway means that there is not enough oxygen getting into the lungs. The struggle to breathe wakes us, interrupting the deep sleep we need to function. Untreated, the results of sleep apnea can range from drowsiness and irritability to a greater risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Luckily, there are several approaches to combatting this form of sleep apnea, including life style changes, surgery or breathing machines, and orthodontic appliances.

  • Lifestyle Changes

Sleep apnea is more likely to affect those who are overweight, smoke, use alcohol, take certain medications, or sleep on their backs. If you can make changes in your lifestyle that will restore the quality of your sleep, this is a great first option.

  • Surgery or Breathing Machines

Sometimes obstruction of the airway is caused by structural problems in the throat or mouth. Tissue can be reshaped or removed during surgery to widen and stabilize the breathing passage. Or you might be prescribed a machine such as a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which blows pressurized air through a tube and mask to keep the airway open during sleep.

  • Oral Appliances

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can also be an important resource if you struggle with obstructive sleep apnea. Many people suffering from this disorder prefer an oral appliance for its effectiveness, comfort, and convenience. One common oral sleep appliance is designed to support your lower jaw in a forward position. This jaw movement increases the open space of your airway as you sleep. Other appliances can prevent the tongue from blocking the airway and obstructing air flow. These appliances resemble mouthguards and retainers, and, like them, are custom made just for you. We will recommend the type of appliance best suited to your needs, and will take a model of your mouth and teeth so that a lab can craft an appliance that will be a perfect fit. We will adjust it for comfort if necessary, instruct you on its use and care, and schedule follow up treatment to make sure the appliance is treating your sleep apnea as efficiently as possible.

Whether you opt for a change of lifestyle habits, a CPAP machine, surgery, or an oral appliance, it is important that you treat this sleeping disorder. Left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can have many serious consequences. If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, talk to us during your next visit at our Middleton, WI office. You deserve a good—and healthy—night’s sleep.

Xerostomia: What does that mean anyway?

December 14th, 2022

Does your mouth always feel like it’s dry? If it does you may be suffering from xerostomia. Xerostomia is defined as dry mouth resulting from reduced or absent saliva flow. There are various medical conditions that can cause this type of dry mouth, which you can ask more questions next time you visit us at hartstone dental.

Xerostomia can factor into both minor and more serious health problems. It can affect the ability to eat and enjoy food and it can jeopardize one’s dental health. Some of the more common symptoms can include sore throat, burning sensation in the oral cavity or tongue, and difficulty swallowing.

One of the more serious problems associated with dry mouth is an increased risk of tooth decay. Decrease in saliva causes more plaque to form and there is less saliva to act as a buffer to the things we eat and drink. Less saliva also means more food debris is retained in the mouth. These things can lead to an increase in tooth decay.

So, what causes xerostomia?

There are several things that may cause xerostomia. Among the biggest culprits are prescription medications. Some examples are antihistamines, antidepressants, anti-hypertensives, anti-anxiety agents, anti-diarrheals, bronchodilators, and muscle relaxers.

Certain diseases can also cause dry mouth. The more common ones include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, diabetes, hypertension, and thyroid disease. Xerostomia is also common in patients being treated for cancer. Head and neck radiation as well as certain chemotherapy drugs can cause severe dry mouth.

What should you do if you are experiencing dry mouth symptoms? First make sure to hydrate with plenty of water. If you are taking medications that cause xerostomia, make sure to drink water before taking the medication as well as a full glass of water with the medication. Be diligent with brushing and flossing and discuss your condition at your next appointment with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk. We can recommend specific products to help moisten the oral cavity and reduce your symptoms such as saliva substitutes, xylitol products, and certain toothpastes. Another option may be a prescription home fluoride treatment to help prevent new cavities. You may want to try gum or candies to stimulate saliva flow but make sure they are sugar free! Avoid food and beverages that dehydrate such as caffeine and alcohol.

Xerostomia is a common problem that is currently on the rise. Our team can help you to reduce any symptoms and improve your comfort while living with a dry mouth. Contact our Middleton, WI office today!

What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste should my child use?

December 14th, 2022

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team know that as a parent, you want your child to be as healthy as possible. By now, you probably know that your son or daughter’s oral health plays a huge role in overall health.

When there are so many toothpaste ads and different styles of brush to choose from, it can be difficult to know which will serve your child the best. We recommend you break down the decision process to make it simpler.

First, your child’s age and stage of development are vital to consider. Until about the age or 12, your youngster may not be prepared to brush or floss adequately alone, due to dexterity issues. If that’s the case, it can be easier to use a battery-powered toothbrush to improve the quality of brushing.

Next is to select the right size of toothbrush head to fit your child’s mouth. As a general rule, the head of the toothbrush should be a little larger than the upper portion of the child’s thumb.

Flossers are great for children and easy to use. They have handles and a horseshoe shape on one end with floss in between. Your child can choose a color he or she likes as well as the handle size, shape, etc.

Not only are there many brands of toothpaste to choose from, there are also many different ingredients that offer varying benefits. Kids are at high risk for developing cavities so you want to make sure the following ingredients are in your child’s toothpaste if you wish to avoid problems later on.

Sodium fluoride is the standard ingredient for cavity prevention, while stannous fluoride is anti-bacterial and anti-cavity. Anti-sensitivity toothpastes often contain potassium nitrate, and triclosan can be found in one particular brand for anti-bacterial action.

Fluoride should not be ingested, so if your child can’t spit yet, use a toothpaste that contains xylitol. This is a natural sweetener and should be the first ingredient listed on the tube.

Now comes the fun part: choosing a flavor! Your little one may sample different flavors and select the one he or she likes the best. A youngster is more likely to adopt good brushing habits if the flavor is appealing.

Don’t hesitate to speak with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk if you need to make an appointment at our Middleton, WI office, or if you have any questions about toothpastes or toothbrushes.

Should Children Use Whitening Products?

December 7th, 2022

As adults, we often wish our teeth could be as white as they were when we were small children. Baby teeth have thinner and whiter enamel than adult teeth, and those brilliant smiles are a result! But occasionally, you may be surprised to discover some staining or discoloration on those lovely first teeth. You might be tempted to apply a whitening product to your child’s teeth, but, please—read on!

Causes of Staining

  • Improper Brushing—Often, a loss of tooth whiteness means that plaque has built up on the tooth surface. Careful brushing is needed to remove bacteria and plaque, and if your child isn’t brushing at least twice a day for two minutes, discoloration can be the result.
  • Medications—When given in liquid form, or when added to formula or food, iron supplements can cause dark grey staining on the teeth. Medications taken by a mother while pregnant or breast feeding, such as tetracycline, can also lead to discoloration.
  • Injury—If a tooth suffers a serious injury, the tooth can darken because of changes inside the enamel.
  • Health conditions—Certain health problems can cause tooth discoloration, or sometimes children are born with weaker enamel that is more likely to stain.

If you have noticed any staining on your child’s primary teeth, call our Middleton, WI office. Simple stains can often be removed with better brushing techniques, and we can clean other surface stains in the office. Staining caused by an injury or a health condition is something we can discuss in detail with you. We can even use some professional whitening methods if those are indicated.

Why not just buy a home whitening kit for your child? There are several important reasons to leave these products on the shelf while your child is young.

  • Whitening kits are designed for adults. They have been tested for adult teeth in adult trials. Check the box for age appropriate use. Most products are not recommended for pre-teen children.
  • Remember that thinner enamel we mentioned earlier? Add to that the delicate skin of young children, and it’s sensible to be cautious about using a bleaching agent that can cause mouth and tooth sensitivity even in adults.
  • There is no body of evidence available as to the short and long term effects of using these products on children.

If you are concerned about the brightness of your child’s smile, please talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk. We can recommend better ways to brush at home, clean your child’s teeth in the office, or suggest professional methods of whitening if there are physical or psychological reasons that it would be valuable. But while your child is young, those off-the-shelf whitening products can wait a few more years.

How HPV and Oral Cancer are Related

December 7th, 2022

Did you know that Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and oral cancer are linked? This information may prevent you or a loved one from suffering from oral cancer if a diagnosis is made early. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team want you to understand how you can prevent the spread of oral cancer and protect yourself if you have HPV.

People don’t often speak up about this common virus, but we believe it’s important to educate yourself to prevent the potential spread of oral cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 80% of Americans will have HPV infections in their lifetime without even knowing it. Symptoms usually go unnoticed, though it’s one of the most common viruses in the U.S. The body’s immune system is generally able to kill the HPV infection without causing any noticeable issues. If you think you might have HPV, talk with primary care physician about getting the preventive vaccine or taking an HPV test.

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, “HPV is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers (the very back of the mouth and throat), and a very small number of front of the mouth, oral cavity cancers. HPV16 is the version most responsible, and affects both males and females.”

Common signs of oral cancer may include:

  • Ulcers or sores that don’t heal within a couple of weeks
  • Swelling, lumps, and discoloration on the soft tissues in the mouth
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Pain with chewing
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Numbness of the mouth or lips
  • Lumps felt on the outside of the neck
  • Constant coughing
  • Earaches on one side of your head

If you experience any of these side effects, please contact hartstone dental as soon as possible.

We hope this information will help you understand the interactions between HPV and oral cancer. Please remember to take precautionary steps if you notice anything out of the ordinary with regard to your oral health. If you have any questions or concerns, contact our Middleton, WI office.

How safe are dental X-rays?

November 30th, 2022

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our staff rely on digital X-rays to help us diagnose oral conditions and process images at incredibly high speeds. You can also view digital X-rays in real time while we examine your mouth with an intraoral camera and upload the images to a software program. A chairside computer monitor lets you see these images as we refine areas of concern to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

But are dental X-rays safe?

Yes! They emit 80 percent less radiation than exposure-type X-rays and provide detailed images to improve diagnosis and treatment. We can now detect dental problems in their earliest stages without subjecting you to unnecessary radiation. The amount of radiation released by digital X-rays is “negligible,” which means the amount is so small, that it can be safely disregarded.

Safe enough for children and pregnant women, digital X-rays detect microscopic pitting in tooth enamel and other abnormalities in the oral tissues that might have remained undetected with traditional X-rays. When Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our staff discover dental caries in their earliest stages, we can initiate treatment measures that will effectively prevent cavity development, tooth decay, and potential tooth loss.

Patient appointment lengths are shortened with digital X-rays as well, because images are immediately viewable and do not require the exposure time associated with old-style X-rays.

How Digital X-Rays Differ from Traditional X-Rays

Instead of using cardboard-contained film, we insert a small sensing device about the size of a pen in your mouth and engage the digital X-ray machine by manually manipulating control buttons. Within seconds, images appear on the monitor that can later be stored in your file or sent to another doctor for further examination.

The increased resolution afforded by digital X-rays means that patients are able to understand the seriousness of their dental issues better, and are more inclined to follow through with procedures recommended by Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk.

Safer, Better and Faster

For detection of cancerous tumors in their early states, digital X-ray technology offers vast improvements over film X-rays because of its cutting-edge image processing capability. Early detection of oral cancer and dental caries is the best way to prevent any type of oral health problem from exceeding the treatable stage.

Is periodontal disease contagious?

November 16th, 2022

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of adults age 30 and over suffer from some form of gum disease. Caused by plaque buildup, gum disease is an infection of the tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth. In its advanced stages, it is known as periodontal disease. If left untreated, it can result in the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth, causing teeth loss. It’s a preventable condition seen far too often by Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk.

Research between periodontal disease and other diseases is ongoing. Some studies have indicated that gum disease is linked to other health conditions such as stroke or diabetes. Furthermore, while most factors that lead to periodontal disease are dependent on the individual (genetics, diet, poor oral hygiene) there is a possibility that periodontitis is capable of spreading from one person to another.

What the Research Says

Periodontitis is a gum infection, and the bacteria that cause the gums to become infected travels in saliva. Researches have used DNA coding techniques to track the path of infection from one person to another. In other words, kissing and close contact play a role in the transmission of the infection, so if you’re married to a spouse with periodontal disease, then your chances of having gum problems are slightly increased. Other studies have indicated that saliva contact is common in family settings through coughing, sneezing, and shared utensils and food. Children with parents who have periodontal disease are at a somewhat higher risk of developing it. At the same time, just because you exchange bacteria with your loved ones doesn’t mean you will get periodontal disease.

It is important to note that the scientific evidence supporting the spread of periodontal disease is limited and ongoing. The best way to prevent gum disease is through proper plaque control, which includes brushing, flossing, mouthwash, and twice a year trips for professional cleanings. Contact our Middleton, WI office if you have any questions about periodontal disease.

Just What Is Plaque?

November 9th, 2022

From the time you were small, you’ve been warned about the dangers of plaque. Why? Because:

  • It’s an unappealing film that sticks to your teeth
  • It causes cavities
  • It causes gum disease

And really, do we need to know much more than this to motivate us to brush? But if you’re in a curious mood, you might be wondering just how this soft, fuzzy film accomplishes all that damage. Let’s take a closer look at the sticky problem of plaque.

How does plaque form?

We live with hundreds of species of oral bacteria, most of which are harmless, and some of which are actually beneficial. But when our oral ecosystem gets out of balance, problems can occur. For example, without regular and thorough brushing and flossing, we start to build up plaque.

Plaque starts forming within hours of your last brushing. And even though plaque fits the very definition of “seems to appear overnight,” this biofilm is actually a complex microbial community with several different stages of development.

  • It starts with saliva.

Saliva is vital to our oral health, because it keeps us hydrated, washes away food particles, neutralizes acids in the mouth, and provides minerals which keep our enamel strong. Saliva also contains proteins, which help form a healthy, protective film on the tooth surface. This film is called a pellicle.

  • Bacteria attach to the pellicle.

There are species of oral bacteria that are able to attach themselves to the pellicle film within hours of its formation. As they become more firmly attached, they begin to grow and divide to form colonies, and are known as the early colonizers of the plaque biofilm.

  • A complex biofilm forms.

If you’ve skipped brushing for a few days (please don’t!), you’ll notice a fuzzy, sometimes discolored film on your enamel—that’s a thriving plaque community, and it only takes a matter of days to go from invisible to unpleasant.

If you’re not removing plaque regularly, it can harden further and become tartar. And once you have tartar buildup, you’ll need the care of a dental professional to remove it.

  • What happens if we ignore plaque and tartar?

We get cavities and gum disease.

How does plaque cause cavities?

  • The bacteria in plaque, like all organisms, need nutrients.

Our normal oral environment and the food in our everyday diets provide the nutrients plaque needs. And, as we mentioned above, certain types of oral bacteria convert these nutrients into acids. Foods such as carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are most easily converted into acids, which is why we recommend that you enjoy them in moderation.

  • The biofilm promotes acid production.

Within the plaque film, anaerobic bacteria (bacteria which don’t use oxygen) convert sugars and starches into acids. As the plaque film becomes denser, it blocks acid-neutralizing saliva and oxygen from reaching these bacteria close to the tooth’s surface, creating an ideal environment for the bacteria to produce their acid waste products.

  • Acids attack enamel.

The sticky nature of plaque keeps these acids in contact with tooth enamel, where, over time, acids dissolve minerals in enamel, weakening the mineral structure of the tooth.

How does plaque cause gum disease?

  • Bacteria cause inflammation and gingivitis.

The bacteria in plaque irritate the delicate tissue of the gums, which causes an inflammation response which can leave your gums swollen, red, bleeding, or tender. This early form of gum disease is gingivitis. Fortunately, good dental care and careful brushing and flossing can usually prevent and even eliminate gingivitis.

  • Plaque and tartar can lead to periodontitis.

When plaque and tartar build up around and below the gumline, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets where bacteria collect, leading to infection as well as inflammation. Infections and constant inflammation not only harm gum tissue, they can destroy the bone supporting the teeth. This serious gum condition is periodontitis, and should be treated immediately to avoid further infection and even tooth loss.

How do we fight plaque?

From the time you were small, you’ve learned how to fight plaque:

  • Brush at least twice a day for two minutes, and be sure to brush all of your tooth surfaces and around the gumline.
  • Floss to remove plaque from between the teeth and near the gumline.
  • Visit our Middleton, WI office for a thorough professional cleaning.

Be proactive. If you have any questions, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about the best way to keep plaque at bay. We can show you the most effective ways to brush and floss, recommend anti-plaque toothpastes and rinses, even suggest plaque-revealing tablets if you’re missing some trouble spots.

We’ve only brushed up on some plaque basics, because there is a lot more to discover about this complex biofilm. Happily, even with all there is to learn about plaque’s growth and development, it’s reassuring to know that getting rid of it is quite simple—with just a soft-bristled brush, some dental floss, and a few minutes of your time each day, you’re on the way to a healthy, happy, plaque-free smile.

Getting Ready for Winter

November 2nd, 2022

Winter Is Coming.

Okay, that sounded a lot more dramatic in a popular fantasy series. But here in the real world, winter is coming as well, so let’s look at some easy steps you can take to keep your teeth and gums healthy during this icy season.

Remember to Hydrate

Dehydration is dangerous for your health in general, and it’s also bad for your dental health. A dry mouth is more vulnerable to gum disease and tooth decay because there’s less saliva to help maintain a healthy oral environment. Saliva helps wash away food particles and bacteria, works to neutralize the cavity-causing acids they produce, and strengthens tooth enamel with its mineral content.

Summer means heat and perspiration—two obvious causes of dehydration. Winter, though, has its own more subtle ways to dry you out.

  • Just as you lose moisture through summer perspiration, you lose moisture with a winter workout as well. That foggy cloud you see when you exhale outdoors? That’s water vapor leaving your body.
  • Cold weather means it’s time to kick up the heating system a few degrees. But unlike heated summer outdoor air, heated winter indoor air is not as humid, so it’s more drying.
  • Some of us just aren’t as thirsty during winter months, and so we don’t hydrate as regularly as we do in the summer. And while summer menus tend to offer foods like salad, fruits, and iced drinks which automatically provide us with a lot of water content, winter menus? Not so much. Keep up with your daily recommended amount of water throughout the year for a healthier body and healthier teeth and gums.

Wear Your Mouthguard

Whether it’s skiing, hockey, snowboarding, or skating, those winter sports can be hard on your teeth. That’s why it’s important to wear your mouthguard when you’re getting the most out of the snow and ice. Mouthguards help prevent injuries to your teeth and provide protection for your jaw and mouth, too.

And a sport doesn’t have to involve snow and ice to be a winter hazard for your teeth. The combination of hard courts, flying elbows, and body contact make basketball a leader in the dental injuries competition. In fact, any sport which involves potential falls or personal contact is a good candidate for a mouthguard.

Mouthguards are available in several forms:

  • One-size-fits-all, pre-formed mouthguards can be found in drugstores and sporting goods stores.
  • “Boil-and-bite” models are warmed in hot water and then shaped when you bite down. The fit is somewhat more comfortable than a stock guard.
  • Custom-made guards from your dentist are precisely molded to your teeth and mouth, letting you speak and breathe more comfortably.

If you haven’t gotten a mouthguard yet, or your old high school guard was retired years ago, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about a custom guard.  While the over-the-counter options are better than going unprotected, a custom mouthguard fits your teeth perfectly—and comfortably!

Get to the Bottom of Winter Sensitivity

That first breath of frosty air might be more alarming than invigorating when tooth pain and sensitivity makes being out in the cold an unpleasant experience. Sensitivity to cold air or warm winter drinks can be an important symptom, caused by a number of dental conditions such as:

  • Cracked teeth
  • Cavities
  • Exposed dentin (the layer of the tooth underneath your enamel)
  • Receding gums
  • Over-vigorous brushing

If the cold weather is keeping you indoors because of oral sensitivity, give us a call.

Even though this can be a very busy time of year, if you’re due for a checkup and cleaning at our Middleton, WI office, or if you have any concerns about your teeth and gums, make time for your dental health. We want to make sure you’re ready to enjoy every frosty moment of the season!

Water: It’s Not Just for Brushing!

October 26th, 2022

We turn on the tap and it comes rushing out. We walk down the hall at work or school and stop at the fountain without even thinking about it. It’s the one item on the menu we most likely won’t have to pay for. Let’s face it—we’re probably taking water for granted. So let’s take a moment and look at the many wonderful things that drinking water does for our teeth and dental health!

  • Cleaning Our Mouths

We can’t always brush right after eating to get rid of food particles. Bacteria feed on the sugars and starches left behind, and produce acids that lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Drinking water with our meals washes away lots of this food residue and dilutes the amount of acid our teeth are exposed to. 

  • Protecting Our Teeth

Water helps with saliva production, and saliva distributes important minerals such as fluoride and calcium to our teeth. This process helps strengthen enamel that might have been eroded by acidic foods and bacteria and makes our enamel less vulnerable to cavities.

  • Preventing Cavities and Dry Mouth

Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens the structure of our teeth. Because so much of our water is fluoridated, you can get this essential mineral with every glass. If you don’t have access to fluoridated water, or if you tend to drink only bottled water (which may or may not have fluoride), please talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about the best way to strengthen and your teeth and help prevent cavities.

Drinking the recommended amount of water per day also helps prevent dry mouth, a condition caused by decreased saliva production. Saliva not only helps remineralize our teeth, as mentioned above, but also works to wash away bacteria and acids that lead to cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. Luckily, we can help ourselves stay hydrated with most liquids, as well as fruits and vegetables that are rich in water content. But the easiest, most effective and often least expensive way to hydrate is with water.

Water just can’t be taken for granted. It’s a marvel of cleaning, protection, and prevention—and it’s calorie-free!

Why Are We Recommending a Periodontal Consultation?

October 19th, 2022

The best way to protect yourself from gum disease is to be proactive: practice good oral hygiene at home and schedule regular checkups and cleanings in our Middleton, WI office.

How do you know if your dental routine is doing the job? There are specific symptoms you might notice when you brush and floss, and less obvious signs of gum disease we look for during your dental exams.

The early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. It’s generally caused by poor dental hygiene, although certain diseases, age, hormones, and a number of other factors can also put you at risk. It’s time to talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about your gum health if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Bright red or purple gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Receding gums

And sometimes, there are no obvious symptoms at all. That’s why regular checkups are so important. If you have gingivitis, careful attention to your oral hygiene, professional cleaning, prescription mouthwash, or other treatments as needed can reverse the effects of gingivitis and restore your gums to their normal, healthy state.

Why be so proactive? Because, left untreated, gingivitis leads to more serious gum disease, called periodontitis. The bacteria in plaque and tartar cause inflammation, and inflammation leads the gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets which become deeper over time. Here, where brushing can’t reach, bacteria continue to multiply, leading to further inflammation, infection, and the eventual breakdown of gum and bone tissues.

The results of untreated periodontitis can be very serious, including:

  • Significant gum recession, leaving roots more vulnerable to decay
  • Periodontal abscesses
  • Loose teeth, or teeth that shift from their proper positions
  • Bone loss in the area surrounding the teeth
  • Tooth loss

If we see signs of advanced periodontitis, we may refer you to a periodontist.

Periodontists specialize in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of gum disease. After dental school, a periodontal degree requires three years of additional advanced education. Periodontists have the training and skill to perform surgical and non-surgical procedures to treat gum disease, as well as to perform cosmetic procedures and place dental implants.

Periodontists are trained to diagnose and treat periodontitis with a number of procedures which they will recommend based on your specific needs. Among the treatments they provide to restore your gum health:

  • Topical, time-release, or oral medication
  • Scaling and root planing, non-surgical deep cleaning procedures which remove plaque and tartar above and below the gumline, and smooth tooth roots to remove bacteria and help the gum tissue reattach to the teeth
  • Flap surgery to treat persistent gum infection, reduce pocket depth, and re-secure the gums snugly around the teeth
  • Bone grafts, gum grafts, and other regenerative procedures which help restore and repair tissue damaged by gum disease

If we recommend a periodontal consultation, be proactive. The best way to protect yourself from the significant consequences of untreated gum disease is to see a specialist in this field. Your periodontist has the knowledge and experience to stop gum disease from progressing, treat damaged bone and gum tissue, and restore your healthy smile.

How can I protect my child's teeth during sports?

October 12th, 2022

Sports are great for children for a variety of reasons. Children can develop their motor skills, learn how to solve conflicts and work together, and develop their work ethics. As a parent, you may recognize the benefits of sports, but also naturally worry about your child’s health and safety. Your job goes beyond providing a water bottle and making sure your child follows the rules of the game.

Although you may not think of your child’s teeth first when you think about sports, accidents can happen that affect your children’s teeth. A stray hockey stick, an errant basketball, or a misguided dive after a volleyball are examples of ways a child could lose a tooth. In fact, studies show that young athletes lose more than three million teeth each year.

Becoming a Better Athlete to Protect Teeth

Becoming a better athlete involves refining skills, learning the rules of the game, and being a good sport. These components are not just about winning. They are also about safety. Young athletes who are better ball-handlers and who are careful to avoid fouls and penalties are less likely to have harmful contact with the ball, teammates, or opponents. Children who are better roller-bladers are less likely to take a face plant into the blacktop, and more likely to save their teeth. Being a good sport and avoiding unnecessary contact is one way to protect teeth.

Proper Protective Equipment for Teeth

If your child is in a sport that poses a high threat to teeth, it is essential for your child to wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards fit your child’s mouth and consist of soft plastic. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can custom fit a mouthguard if generic ones are uncomfortable. While children may resist wearing a mouthguard initially, your persistence in insisting that they wear it should be enough to convince them. A helmet or face mask provides additional protection.

While prevention is best, rapid treatment can improve the situation if your child does happen to lose a tooth during sports. Rapid implantation can work in about ten percent of cases. To learn about ways to save a lost tooth, contact our Middleton, WI office.

What to Know if You Think You Have a Cracked Tooth

October 5th, 2022

You use your mouthguard for sports, wear a nightguard if you grind your teeth, and never bite down on solid objects. But even with all the care in the world, accidents happen. If we break a leg, our bones can regenerate tissue and knit together over time. A cracked tooth, on the other hand, can only be repaired, but will not heal. The right treatment is essential to protect your injured tooth. If you suspect you have a fractured tooth, what should you do?

Sometimes you know right away when you’ve cracked a tooth. A fall off a bike, a blow to the face on the basketball court, a bite of something that turned out to be much harder than it should have been—the results can be instantly apparent. If you have a broken or chipped tooth, call our Middleton, WI office immediately. If you have lost a piece of your tooth, bring it in with you. Early treatment can not only restore the appearance of your tooth, but might prevent the possibility of infection or damage to the root and pulp.

Sometimes, a fractured tooth is an unwelcome surprise. It doesn’t take one specific incident to cause damage to a tooth. A crack or break can develop over time if you grind your teeth, have a large filling that has compromised a tooth, or have undergone a root canal procedure that has left the tooth brittle.  You might notice a crack or a missing piece of tooth, or experience pain while chewing or sensitivity to heat and cold. If you have any of these symptoms, call us. Once again, the earlier a tooth is treated, the better the outcome.

No matter how you discover an injury, immediate treatment by Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk is the best way to safeguard your healthy smile. Prompt treatment and restoration repair your smile cosmetically, and, in the case of more serious fractures, extend your tooth’s life, prevent further damage, and ward off potential infections of the gum and bone.

We have many options for restoring your damaged tooth, and our recommendations will depend on the type of injury your tooth has suffered.

  • Chips

It is important to bring any broken piece of your tooth with you because sometimes the piece can be reattached. If that is not possible, a small chip might only require bonding with a tooth-colored resin. A veneer is an option for a larger chip, or where a translucent, natural appearance is important. If the chip is deep enough, and there is pulp damage, we might suggest a root canal and a crown.

  • Broken Cusps

A lost cusp is a common result of injury, especially near a filling. If the pulp is unaffected, which is generally the case, a filling or crown can restore the appearance and function of the tooth.

  • Cracks through the Tooth

A tooth cracked from the chewing surface to the root presents a more serious problem. If the crack has extended to the pulp, but remains above the gum line, a root canal and crown can preserve the tooth. If the crack extends below the gum line, however, extraction might be necessary. Early cracks will eventually extend below the gum line, so early treatment is essential.

A tooth can also fracture from the root up. Any crack in the root is a serious matter, and often is not discovered until infection has set in. Extraction is a common recommendation, although some specific cracks near the tip of the root might be treated with endodontic surgery.

  • Split Tooth

Sometimes an untreated vertical crack can lead to a tooth split into two pieces. An endodontist can determine whether any portion of the tooth can be saved, although extraction is more likely.

If you injure your tooth, or have any symptoms of a tooth fracture, call us immediately. Whether you have suffered a chipped tooth, a broken cusp, crown or root fractures, or even a split tooth, prompt treatment is the best way to restore and protect your attractive and healthy smile.

Three Must-Have Dental Treatments

September 28th, 2022

There are numerous options for dental treatments out there, so how do you choose which are right for you? Our experts at hartstone dental have handpicked the three must-have procedures that we believe can benefit nearly every patient.

  1. Periodontal Exam: This should happen at least once a year and is quick and painless. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk or your hygienist will carefully probe around each tooth and take measurements that indicate the health of the bone and its supporting tissue. This appointment is worthwhile because of the known fact that gum disease can increase the risk of potentially fatal conditions such as heart disease and stroke. Silent killers like diabetes can show signs in the mouth before the person becomes aware of other symptoms. Did you know adults lose more teeth to periodontal disease than to cavities? A simple screening once a year could save your smile and boost your overall health!
  2. Dental Sealant: For both adults and children, sealants provide a protective barrier from bacteria deep in the pits and grooves of the teeth where cavities often start. Sealants placed in childhood will often wear away in adulthood, so replacing them is useful because it can help prevent tooth decay later on. Dental insurance will likely not cover sealants for adults, but the cost of a sealant for prevention versus the cost of a filling is much lower, and definitely worth it.
  3. In-office Whitening: Most people develop tooth stains. in-office whitening at our Middleton, WI office is the perfect way to correct discoloration. It’s safe and produces dramatic results in a short amount of time. In two hours, you could take years off your age. Who wouldn’t want that?

 

Forget Something? It’s on the Tip of Your Tongue!

September 21st, 2022

Let’s see…

Toothbrush? Check.

Fluoride toothpaste? Check.

Floss? Check.

Two minutes of thorough brushing? Check.

Careful cleaning around your brackets and wires? Check.

Wait… there’s something else… it’s right on the tip of your…

Ah! Your tongue! Whenever you brush, morning, evening, or any time in between, if you want the freshest breath and cleanest teeth, don’t forget your tongue.

Why your tongue? Because the tongue is one of the most common sources of bad breath. Let’s examine just why this occurs.

The tongue is made up of a group of muscles that help us speak and chew and swallow. But there’s more to this remarkable organ than mere muscle. The surface of the tongue is covered with mucous membrane, like the smooth tissue which lines our mouths. But the tongue isn’t completely smooth—it’s textured with thousands of tiny bumps called papillae.

These little elevated surfaces have several shapes and functions. Some make the tongue’s surface a bit rough, which helps move food through your mouth. Some are temperature sensitive, letting you know that your slice of pizza is much too hot. And some are covered with thousands of the taste buds, which make eating that pizza so enjoyable.

All of these papillae with their various functions combine to create a textured surface, filled with miniscule nooks and crannies. And if there’s a nook or a cranny where bacteria can collect, no matter how miniscule, it’s a good bet that they will, and the surface of the tongue is no exception. But bacteria aren’t alone—the tongue’s surface can also hide food particles and dead cells.

How does this unappealing accumulation affect you? These elements work together to cause bad breath, especially the bacteria that break down food particles and cell debris to produce volatile sulfur compounds—compounds which create a particularly unpleasant odor. Including your tongue in your brushing routine helps remove one of the main causes of bad breath.

And that’s not the only benefit! Cleaning the tongue helps eliminate the white coating caused by bacterial film, and might even improve the sense of taste. Most important, studies show that regular cleaning noticeably lowers the levels of decay-causing plaque throughout the mouth.

So, how to get rid of that unwanted, unpleasant, and unhealthy debris?

  • When you’re done brushing your teeth, use your toothbrush to brush your tongue.

Clean your tongue by brushing gently front to back and then side to side. Rinse your mouth when you’re through. Simple as that! And just like a soft-bristled toothbrush helps protect tooth enamel and gum tissue, we also recommend soft bristles when you brush your tongue. Firm bristles can be too hard on tongue tissue.

  • Use a tongue scraper.

Some people find tongue scrapers more effective than brushing. Available in different shapes and materials, these tools are used to gently scrape the surface of the tongue clean of bacteria and debris. Always apply this tool from back to front, and rinse the scraper clean after every stroke. Wash and dry it when you’re through.

  • Add a mouthwash or rinse.

As part of your oral hygiene routine, antibacterial mouthwashes and rinses can assist in preventing bad breath. Ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for a recommendation.

  • Don’t brush or scrape too vigorously.

Your tongue is a sturdy, hard-working organ, but tongue tissue is still delicate enough to be injured with over-vigorous cleaning.

Taking a few extra seconds to clean your tongue helps eliminate the bacteria and food particles which contribute to bad breath and plaque formation. Make this practice part of your daily brushing routine—it’s a healthy habit well worth remembering!

Symptoms That Could Mean You Need a Root Canal

September 14th, 2022

Every tooth packs a lot of layers in a very small area. The outer, visible part of our tooth, the crown, is covered in protective enamel, and the lower root area is protected by a similar substance called cementum. Inside these very hard layers is dentin, a hard but more porous tissue which surrounds the pulp. In this central pulp chamber, we have the blood vessels which nourish the tooth and the nerves which send our bodies signals from the tooth. And if one of those signals is persistent tooth pain, you may need a procedure called a root canal.

There are a number of reasons that a tooth may cause you pain, including:

  • Fracture—a cracked or broken tooth can allow bacteria to enter the pulp chamber and cause inflammation and infection
  • Cavity—an untreated cavity can leave an opening where bacteria can reach the pulp of the tooth, and again lead to infection
  • Gum Disease—bacteria can attack from the root area of the tooth if gum disease has become serious
  • Injury—an accident or injury to a tooth can damage the nerve or the blood supply which nourishes the pulp
  • Abscess—if infection is left untreated, an abscess may form under the root

While a damaged tooth may sometimes be symptom-free, usually there are signs that the pulp has been injured or infected. What symptoms should lead you to give Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk a call?

  • Persistent pain in the tooth
  • Long-lasting sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Gum tissue adjacent to the tooth that is sore, red or swollen
  • A cracked, broke, darkened or discolored tooth
  • A bump on your gums that persists or keeps recurring—this might indicate an abscess

A root canal is performed by a trained dentist or endodontist. After an anesthetic is used to numb the area, the damaged tissue, including pulp, blood vessels and nerves, is removed from the pulp chamber and each root. The inside of the tooth is then cleaned and shaped, and filled and sealed with a temporary filling. The tooth is filled again permanently, usually on a second visit, and might require a crown in order to protect it from further damage.

The most painful part of a root canal is far more often the time spent suffering before the procedure than the procedure itself. Delaying action when a root canal is necessary can lead to infection, abscess, and even tooth loss. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, please give our Middleton, WI office a call!

 

Five Things You Didn't Know About Cavities

August 31st, 2022

Most people know when they have a cavity—they can either see it on their tooth or... ouch! They can feel it! But there are certain things that many of our patients don't know about cavities that could save them a trip to our Middleton, WI office!

1. Not all sugars are created equal

It's quite well known that eating dietary sugars in excess along with poor oral hygiene leads to dental decay such as cavities. This is due to the fact that the bacteria in your mouth feed on these sugars and excrete acids as a byproduct of that process, thus causing decay. But xylitol, a sugar alcohol derived from birch or corn, actually prevents the bacteria from converting sugars into acids.

Xylitol is available in the form of gum, mints, toothpaste, and even in a granulated form much like regular cane sugar. You might consider trying some xylitol products between meals to keep your mouth clean and fresh.

2. It's not always what you eat but HOW you eat

Are you a grazer, always snacking between meals and never satisfied? We now know that this kind of eating can contribute to cavities and other oral health problems.

Every time you eat anything with carbohydrates in it, you're feeding the bacteria in your mouth, which in turn produce acids. If you're constantly eating, it doesn't allow your saliva time to bring the pH of your mouth back into a more alkaline, neutral state. It takes your saliva about 20 minutes to neutralize the acids in your mouth after eating.

It's especially easy to harm your teeth in this way with soft drinks, sipping all day long. So, it's best to avoid sugary drinks and junk food, and if you need a snack opt for healthy vegetables or what are known as "detergent foods." If you do decide to drink a soft drink or eat something sugary, have it all at once and not over the course of the day.

3. Flossing is one of the most important oral hygiene techniques

Although most of our patients are aware that they need to brush, sometimes they can get lackadaisical when it comes to flossing. And that's a big mistake. Flossing is one of the most important (and we daresay, easiest) things someone can do to help prevent cavities and tooth decay.

You see, as we've already mentioned, the bacteria in your mouth that cause cavities feed on the food you eat. So if you've got pieces of that food stuck between your teeth all day and night, every day, that's asking for a problem.

Flossing clears that bacteria-feeding food out from between your teeth. Floss daily and whenever you decide to do it, morning or night, just do it!

4. A dry mouth can lead to cavities and tooth decay

Your teeth's best defense against cavities and tooth decay is actually your saliva! We've already talked about the pH neutralizing effect saliva has. So if you find you have a dry mouth often, make sure to have some water to sip on. Or why not try some xylitol mints or gum to get your saliva production kicked into action?

5. Over-brushing can damage your enamel

If you brush like a construction worker with a jackhammer, you should ease up! Brushing too hard can scrape away at your teeth's enamel, which leaves them more susceptible to cavities and decay. Brush lightly, with your brush angled at the gum line for two minutes, twice a day. That's all that is required!

What exactly is tinnitus?

August 24th, 2022

It’s estimated that about one in every five people is affected by tinnitus, which is a ringing or noise in the ears. But tinnitus isn’t a condition in itself; it’s actually the symptom of an underlying condition. Some of these underlying conditions could be hearing loss, injury to the ear, or some sort of circulatory disorder.

Another common cause if tinnitus is a dental injury or dental issue, whether it involves the jaw or the temporomandibular joint, better known as the TMJ. “Somatic tinnitus” is the term given to the version that is attributable to injuries to the head or neck area. Symptoms of somatic tinnitus may include noticeable fluctuations in sound volume, intermittency, headaches, memory loss or increased forgetfulness, and an increased likelihood of being depressed or sad.

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will tell you tinnitus usually isn’t serious and is more common in older populations. For that reason, many people won’t even seek an answer to what’s causing it. But people can also experience more severe cases of tinnitus that can affect a person’s ability to complete everyday activities, which has a larger impact on their lives. For people facing these more severe cases of tinnitus, treatment may be necessary to increase their quality of life. It’s also worth noting that tinnitus seems to worsen with age, so while symptoms might not be a problem one year, they may be more significant and distracting the next.

If you have tinnitus that is caused by the misalignment of the TMJ or an injury to the mouth, that’s a condition that can be corrected by Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team at hartstone dental. We will work to relieve your symptoms by realigning the jaw or adjusting your bite with routine dental care. Sometimes we won’t even have to go this far, because an oral infection or gum infection may be causing your problem. We might also recommend other life changes, such as dietary adjustments and medication.

If you're experiencing tinnitus-like symptoms and have ruled out various other reasons for it, contact our Middleton, WI office today. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team will carefully analyze your situation and put you on a treatment course so that you can kick the symptoms for good.

Antibiotic Prophylaxis or Premedication

August 17th, 2022

In years past, it was often recommended that dental patients who had a history of heart problems or other conditions, such as joint implants, be given antibiotics before any dental work. This pre-treatment is called prophylaxis, based on the Greek words for “protecting beforehand.” Why would Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk suggest this protection? It has to do with possible effects of oral bacteria on the rest of the body.

Our bodies are home to bacteria which are common in our mouths, but which can be dangerous elsewhere. If these oral bacteria get into the bloodstream, they can collect around the heart valve, the heart lining, or blood vessels. A rare, but often extremely serious, infection called infective endocarditis can result.

It is no longer recommended that every patient with a heart condition take antibiotics before dental procedures. Doctors worry about adverse effects from antibiotics or, more generally, that an overuse of antibiotics in the general population will lead to more strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

There are some patients, however, who are at a higher risk of developing infective endocarditis, and who should always use preventative antibiotics. Generally, premedication is advised if you have one of these risk factors:

  • A history of infective endocarditis
  • Certain congenital heart conditions (heart conditions present since birth)
  • An artificial heart valve
  • A heart transplant

Your cardiologist will know if prophylaxis is advisable, and if you are taking any drugs which could interact with antibiotics. Always talk to your doctor about any dental procedures you are planning, particularly if they are invasive procedures such as gum surgery or extractions.

If you believe you would benefit from antibiotics before dental treatment at our Middleton, WI office, the most important first step is to talk with your doctors. We are trained to know which pre-existing health conditions call for prophylaxis, which dental procedures require them, which antibiotics to use, and when to take them. Tell us about any health conditions you have, especially cardiac or vascular issues, and any medication allergies. Working with you and your doctor to protect your health is our first priority, and having a complete picture of your medical health will let us know if antibiotic prophylaxis is right for you.

The Consequences of Sports and Energy Drinks

August 10th, 2022

They’re refreshing and tasty. They’re easy to find and pretty cheap. They help us get through a long day or a long workout. They’re everywhere.

We know it’s hard to say no to an energy or sports drink. That’s why Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team want to make sure you know the effects that energy and sports drinks can have on your smile and overall oral health. You might just think twice next time you crave one.

There’s a common misconception that sports and energy drinks are somehow healthier than soda beverages. None is particularly good for you, but because sports and energy drinks have higher acidity levels, they put you on a fast track to enamel erosion, which can lead to cavities over time. However, studies show that energy drinks may be the worst of the bunch.

In a study published in General Dentistry, the energy drinks that showed the highest acidity levels were 5-hour Energy, Monster, Rockstar, and Red Bull Sugar free. These drinks almost doubled in acidity when compared to sports drinks. The sports drinks that came in second as far as acidity levels go were Powerade, Gatorade, and Propel.

You may be thinking, “What's the big deal; lots of other drinks damage your teeth, too,” and you’re right. Even all-natural beverages like orange juice and other fruit juices, which are advertised as full of vitamins, contain acid that damages tooth enamel. The point here is that moderation is key.

We certainly encourage you to choose a glass of orange juice over an energy drink, but if you feel like you just can’t give up your sports and energy drink habit, then please consider the following tips:

  • Limit yourself to a certain number of said beverages a week and stick to it.
  • Rinse with water after consuming an energy or sports drink.
  • Brush your teeth after an hour of downing the drink, so your mouth has time to return to its normal pH level.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call at our Middleton, WI office. Shoot us a message on Facebook, or let us know on your next visit!

Hot Day? Three Drinks to Leave Home When You’re Packing the Cooler

August 3rd, 2022

Whew! It’s a hot one! And whenever the temperature soars, you need to stay hydrated, especially when you’re outside or exercising. But all cold drinks aren’t equal when it comes to healthy hydration. Which beverages shouldn’t have a prime spot in your cooler when you’re wearing braces or aligners?

  • Soft Drinks

You’re probably not surprised to find soft drinks at the top of the list. After all, sugar is a) a big part of what makes soda so popular, and b) not a healthy choice for your teeth.

Sugar is a favorite food source for the oral bacteria that make up plaque. These bacteria convert sugar into acids, and these acids attack the surface of your tooth enamel. Over time, the minerals which keep enamel strong begin to erode, and weakened, eroded enamel is a lot more susceptible to cavities.

So, what about sugar-free drinks? Does this make soft drinks a better choice? Unfortunately, you can take the sugar out of many sodas, but you can’t take the acids out. Most soft drinks are very acidic, even without sugar, and will cause enamel erosion just like the acids created by bacteria will.

  • Fruit Drinks

Fruit juice provides us with vitamins, which is great, but it’s also full of natural sugars and acids. And blended fruit drinks and fruit punches often contain added sugars and added citric acids. Best to choose 100% fruit content and check the labels before you buy. (And you can always get refreshing fruit flavor by adding a slice of fruit to a glass of water.)

  • Sports Drinks

You might be surprised to see these on the list—after all, they promise healthy hydration while you’re working out. And hydration is healthy—but sugars and acids aren’t. Even when the label tells you there’s no added sugar, that same label will often reveal high amounts of citric acid. In fact, some sports drinks are more acidic than sodas.

We’ll make an exception, though, for thirsty people who participate in sports or activities that require a lot of physical exercise and produce a lot of sweat. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes, those ionized minerals which help regulate many vital bodily functions. Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about which sports drinks are best for you if you need to replenish your electrolytes when working out.

So, what’s your best hydration choice on a hot day? Water! It not only hydrates you, it cleans your teeth, it helps you produce saliva, and it often contains tooth-strengthening fluoride. But if you only have sports drinks in the cooler, or if you just want to enjoy a soft drink or a bottle of juice from time to time, no need to go thirsty. We have some ways to make sure your teeth are safer, even with this tricky trio:

  • Rinse with water after you drink a sugary or acidic drink. And remember to brush when you get home.
  • Be choosy. Check labels for added sugars and acids.
  • Don’t sip your drinks all day long. Saliva actually helps neutralize acids in the mouth, but sipping acidic beverages throughout the day doesn’t give saliva a chance to work.
  • Use a straw to avoid washing your enamel in sugars and acids.

You need to keep hydrated when it’s hot. When you’re packing your cooler, choose drinks that are healthy for your entire body, including your teeth and gums. Ask our Middleton, WI team for the best choices in cold drinks to make sure you’re getting the hydration you need—without the sugar and acids you don’t!

How does whitening toothpaste work and how effective it is at whitening teeth?

July 27th, 2022

Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association seal of approval can help prevent tooth decay and relieve other conditions, such as bad breath, sensitive teeth, and gingivitis.

Beyond these health effects, another motivation for frequently brushing your teeth with high-quality toothpaste is to keep your teeth white. If you want whiter teeth but do not want to undergo in-office or at-home bleaching treatments, you might consider choosing whitening toothpaste for your daily brushing.

Why Consider Whitening Toothpaste

Whiter teeth are more attractive, which can help you feel more confident in your smile. Your smile is also one of the main components of the first impression you make on people in your professional and personal life. Having a whiter smile and greater self-assurance can send the message that you take care of yourself and are confident in your abilities.

How Whitening Toothpaste Works

The American Dental Association explains that all toothpaste has whitening properties because they help remove food particles from your teeth. To carry the American Dental Association seal for whitening, however, toothpaste must contain certain chemicals that help remove stains.

Unlike bleaching products, which contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, whitening toothpaste only cleans the enamel rather than changing the color of your teeth. To obtain the benefits of whitening toothpaste, you need to use it regularly.

The Effectiveness of Whitening Toothpaste Varies

Due to individual variations in the color of your teeth, some people are more likely than others to achieve the desired results with whitening. Teeth that are tinted grayish are unlikely to respond well to bleaching, while brown teeth can sometimes respond, and yellowish teeth are most likely to become pearly white with bleaching.

If Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our staff believe that bleaching is not a viable option for you, proper oral hygiene and the use of a whitening toothpaste are your best bets for keeping your teeth as white as possible. In addition, avoid using tobacco products, and rinse your mouth after drinking coffee.

Four Great Additions to Your Dental-Healthy Diet

July 20th, 2022

Calcium from dairy products for strong bones and teeth? Check. Vitamin C from fruits and vegetables for gum health? Check. Protein from lean meats, eggs, and fish to create, maintain, and repair tooth and gum tissue? Check, check, and check.

These nutrients are probably the most well-known players in the production of a dental healthy diet, but there are several other important minerals and vitamins we need to balance the cast. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team take a look at some of these lesser-known but equally vital actors.

  • Phosphorus

Calcium is the mineral we hear about most often for maintaining strong teeth and bones, but it doesn’t act alone. Phosphorus is necessary for our bodies to make full use of calcium. Phosphorus is absorbed best from animal foods like meat, fish, and poultry, but it can also be found in beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products.

  • Magnesium

Magnesium also works with calcium, and promotes bone density and the strength of our hard enamel. If you are looking to add magnesium to your diet, you have a spectacular variety of options, including salmon, tuna, chickpeas, green leafy vegetables, nuts, avocados, seeds, brown rice—even dark chocolate!

  • Vitamin A

This vitamin is essential for the health and healing of our mucous membranes, which include our gums and the soft membranes in our mouths. Vitamin A is found in animal products such as dairy foods, meat, and liver, or formed from beta-carotenes, found in plant foods such as carrots, peppers, pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes.

  • Vitamin D

Even though we might make sure to get plenty of calcium to keep our teeth and bones healthy, we will never get the most out of a calcium-rich diet without vitamin D. Vitamin D not only helps with bone density, it actually helps our bodies absorb calcium so we can put it to work for us. It has also been shown to promote gum health by reducing the inflammation that can lead to gum disease. Sunlight exposure leads our bodies to produce vitamin D naturally, but it is available in foods as well. Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and herring, are a rich source of the vitamin, as are cod liver oil and egg yolks. The only plant that produces vitamin D is the mushroom, but it is also available in foods fortified with vitamin D, such as cow’s milk, soy milk, orange juice, and even many cereals.

You want your diet to be part of your healthy lifestyle, and more and more we are coming to discover just how important a balanced diet is to our dental health as well. The fascinating fact is that all of the nutrients which support our dental health work together and depend on each other to play their roles effectively. Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk at your next checkup at our Middleton, WI office for some suggestions on finding the dietary balance that works best for you.

Toothaches and Abscesses

July 13th, 2022

With Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk, emergency dental care is only a phone call away. Dental problems are uncomfortable and should always be treated as soon as possible to prevent them from getting worse.

Whether it’s an abscess or a toothache that you believe might be something more, it’s vital to pay attention to your body and give it the attention it needs. Below, you’ll find some more information about abscesses and toothaches that may clarify any doubts about the differences, whether you may be suffering from one of them … and what to do if you are.

Abscesses

What’s an abscess? It’s a bacterial infection: an accumulation of pus that can form inside a tooth or the gums and cause pain and swelling. It generally develops as a result of poor oral hygiene.

Bacteria lives in plaque so if plaque isn’t removed on a regular basis, it can build up and encourage bacteria to spread, which could ultimately result in an abscess. Antibiotics aren’t always needed for treatment, you should get this situation checked out as soon as possible. If left untreated, oral infections can lead to bigger complications.

Toothaches

Toothaches can happen for a number of reasons. The simplest, most common one is a piece of food that is stuck in your gum, which can cause a bit of swelling and discomfort.

To get rid of it, you can rinse your mouth with hot water and salt, every morning and evening. This helps kill bacteria and bring down the swelling. You can also gently floss the area to remove whatever is stuck there. If you experience bleeding while you’re flossing, and hot water with salt proves ineffective, it may be time to schedule an appointment.

If you’re especially sensitive to cold and heat, you may often experience toothaches. If this is the case, we can recommend a pain reliever to reduce the discomfort, but it’s worthwhile to come in for a check-up anyway to make sure the problem doesn’t get worse.

The last (and most obvious) reason for a toothache is a cavity. Depending on how bad it is, we might fill it or place a crown. The tricky thing with cavities is that sometimes you may not know you have one at all, especially when they’re just starting out. The best way to prevent them from getting worse and creating toothaches is by keeping up with your regular dental cleanings.

At hartstone dental, we’re here to assist you through any and all your dental emergencies! We encourage you to make an appointment at our Middleton, WI office if you notice any signs of discomfort, so we can provide the most efficient care for you.

HPV and Oral Cancer

July 6th, 2022

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is best known as a sexually transmitted infection. In the United States, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease, with 79 million Americans currently infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to increasing risk for cervical cancer, HPV is a contributing factor in some cases of oral cancer. Each year an estimated 1,700 women and 6,700 men develop oropharyngeal cancer, which affects the tongue and throat.

Connection between HPV and oral cancer

There are more than 40 strains of HPV that live in the skin and mucosal areas. Some of these affect the genitalia, while others are found in the mouth and throat. Of the strains of oral HPV, only one, called HPV16, increases the risk of oral cancer, the Oral Cancer Foundation reports. A retrospective study conducted found that oral cancer developed an average of 15 years after exposure to HPV, making it a relatively slow-growing form of cancer.

In general, 80% of Americans will have an HPV infection at some point in their lifetimes, while 99% develop no ill effects. Getting oral HPV is associated with multiple sexual partners and engaging in oral sex; however, even some individuals who have been with only one partner may contract the infection. Although overall risk of oral cancer from HPV infection is low, it is essential to be proactive about oral health.

How to prevent HPV-related oral cancer

Scientists continue to study how HPV infections lead to oral cancer, so little is known about the progression of the disease. However, one recent study found that poor oral health, including gum disease and poor oral hygiene, is associated with oral cancer risk. Thus, being vigilant about brushing and flossing your teeth regularly may reduce HPV-related oral cancer. Getting the HPV vaccine also protects against the oral form of the virus.

Another key way to reduce mortality from oral cancer is to have regularly scheduled appointments with at hartstone dental. Having Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk examine your mouth at least two times a year increases the likelihood that a sign of oral cancer, such as a sore or patch, will be detected. If you’re concerned about HPV-related oral cancer, please give us a call at our Middleton, WI office for advice about oral hygiene and disease prevention.

HPV and Oral Cancer

July 6th, 2022

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is best known as a sexually transmitted infection. In the United States, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease, with 79 million Americans currently infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to increasing risk for cervical cancer, HPV is a contributing factor in some cases of oral cancer. Each year an estimated 1,700 women and 6,700 men develop oropharyngeal cancer, which affects the tongue and throat.

Connection between HPV and oral cancer

There are more than 40 strains of HPV that live in the skin and mucosal areas. Some of these affect the genitalia, while others are found in the mouth and throat. Of the strains of oral HPV, only one, called HPV16, increases the risk of oral cancer, the Oral Cancer Foundation reports. A retrospective study conducted found that oral cancer developed an average of 15 years after exposure to HPV, making it a relatively slow-growing form of cancer.

In general, 80% of Americans will have an HPV infection at some point in their lifetimes, while 99% develop no ill effects. Getting oral HPV is associated with multiple sexual partners and engaging in oral sex; however, even some individuals who have been with only one partner may contract the infection. Although overall risk of oral cancer from HPV infection is low, it is essential to be proactive about oral health.

How to prevent HPV-related oral cancer

Scientists continue to study how HPV infections lead to oral cancer, so little is known about the progression of the disease. However, one recent study found that poor oral health, including gum disease and poor oral hygiene, is associated with oral cancer risk. Thus, being vigilant about brushing and flossing your teeth regularly may reduce HPV-related oral cancer. Getting the HPV vaccine also protects against the oral form of the virus.

Another key way to reduce mortality from oral cancer is to have regularly scheduled appointments with at hartstone dental. Having Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk examine your mouth at least two times a year increases the likelihood that a sign of oral cancer, such as a sore or patch, will be detected. If you’re concerned about HPV-related oral cancer, please give us a call at our Middleton, WI office for advice about oral hygiene and disease prevention.

HPV and Oral Cancer

July 6th, 2022

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is best known as a sexually transmitted infection. In the United States, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease, with 79 million Americans currently infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to increasing risk for cervical cancer, HPV is a contributing factor in some cases of oral cancer. Each year an estimated 1,700 women and 6,700 men develop oropharyngeal cancer, which affects the tongue and throat.

Connection between HPV and oral cancer

There are more than 40 strains of HPV that live in the skin and mucosal areas. Some of these affect the genitalia, while others are found in the mouth and throat. Of the strains of oral HPV, only one, called HPV16, increases the risk of oral cancer, the Oral Cancer Foundation reports. A retrospective study conducted found that oral cancer developed an average of 15 years after exposure to HPV, making it a relatively slow-growing form of cancer.

In general, 80% of Americans will have an HPV infection at some point in their lifetimes, while 99% develop no ill effects. Getting oral HPV is associated with multiple sexual partners and engaging in oral sex; however, even some individuals who have been with only one partner may contract the infection. Although overall risk of oral cancer from HPV infection is low, it is essential to be proactive about oral health.

How to prevent HPV-related oral cancer

Scientists continue to study how HPV infections lead to oral cancer, so little is known about the progression of the disease. However, one recent study found that poor oral health, including gum disease and poor oral hygiene, is associated with oral cancer risk. Thus, being vigilant about brushing and flossing your teeth regularly may reduce HPV-related oral cancer. Getting the HPV vaccine also protects against the oral form of the virus.

Another key way to reduce mortality from oral cancer is to have regularly scheduled appointments with at hartstone dental. Having Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk examine your mouth at least two times a year increases the likelihood that a sign of oral cancer, such as a sore or patch, will be detected. If you’re concerned about HPV-related oral cancer, please give us a call at our Middleton, WI office for advice about oral hygiene and disease prevention.

Whitening Before Veneers—A Bright Idea?

June 29th, 2022

It’s time. You’ve decided. You’re going to get veneers. Whether it’s to repair a cracked or chipped tooth, to cover discoloration brought on by a root canal or medical condition, to fill in gaps between teeth, or for any other cosmetic reason, veneers can give you back your natural, confident smile.

And now you have just one more decision to make: should you whiten your teeth beforehand?

Many dental professionals find that, for most of us, the best results occur with professional whitening before veneer placement. Why?

  • Your veneers will be carefully matched to the teeth surrounding them.

You don’t want your veneers to look anything but natural, and so Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will make sure that their color is indistinguishable from your other teeth. But there is one important difference between tooth enamel and veneers:

  • Teeth are porous.

As hard as it is, enamel is still porous. And the fact that teeth are porous means that teeth can discolor over time. Coffee, tea, red wine, sodas, darkly hued fruits, and fruit juices—teeth readily absorb pigments from foods. And smoking?  Not only one of the worst habits for your health, it’s one of the major causes of tooth discoloration. This is the downside of having porous enamel.

The upside? The fact that enamel is porous also means that you can brighten your smile with a whitening procedure.

  • Veneers aren’t as porous.

Veneers are generally made of porcelain or a composite resin, with some key differences between them.

Porcelain has a translucent quality that looks like natural enamel, and it is very durable. Porcelain veneers are recommended when teeth have significant chips or gaps. They are also especially stain-resistant.

Composite veneers aren’t as expensive, and usually don’t need as much tooth structure removed to bond them to the tooth. They might not last as long as porcelain, and they aren’t quite as resistant to staining.

When you visit our Middleton, WI office, we can discuss the pros and cons to find the perfect veneers for your needs. Just remember,

  • Once created, veneers can’t change color.

Veneer color should be considered permanent. If your porcelain veneers seem to have dimmed a bit, often a gentle professional polishing will bring them back to their original shine. Composite veneers, as well, can respond to polishing and cleaning. This is the upside of permanent veneer color.

The downside? Veneers can’t be whitened to match your newly whitened tooth enamel. If you decide to whiten your teeth at a later date, your veneers might appear darker than your surrounding teeth. If you want to change veneer color, you will need to replace your veneers. So . . .

Now that you’ve decided to transform your smile with veneers, take a little extra time to talk to your dentist. Find out if whitening makes sense for you for a perfect, uniform match between your other teeth and your veneers.  And then be ready to enjoy your matchless smile!

Whitening Teeth with Braces

June 22nd, 2022

Now that you are working hard to improve your dental health and appearance with your braces, it might seem like a logical time to whiten your teeth as well. But should you go ahead with home kits or a professional whitening? The answer might be yes, but not quite yet!

Toothpaste

The easiest way to whiten teeth is regular use of a whitening toothpaste. But these do not make a major difference in tooth color and may also contain abrasives which can damage ceramic brackets and make them more likely to stain. And, whether you have metal or ceramic braces, the brackets used are bonded to your teeth. Any part of your tooth covered by a bracket will not be affected by the whitening paste. Ask our office if you are thinking of using one of these products. We will be happy to recommend the best toothpastes to use while your braces are in place.

Whitening Strips and Trays

Whiteners can be applied at home with strips or tray kits. Strips are coated with a whitening gel and then pressed around your teeth. Tray kits provide a mouthguard-like appliance, which is filled with whitening gel. But neither strips nor tray solutions will whiten any area covered by brackets. When your braces come off, there might be noticeable differences in color on each tooth. Strips are difficult to apply with braces, and trays need to be custom-designed to fit your braces and make sure they don’t disturb your orthodontic work. One size most definitely does not fit all! Finally, these whitening agents can cause tooth and gum sensitivity, especially around the time of adjustments. Many manufacturers do not recommend using their products while you have braces. Please talk to us if you are thinking of using them.

Professional Whitening

A dental professional can whiten your teeth in office for the best possible results. The most effective treatments for your unique teeth are combined with protective care of your gums and mouth. Whether this treatment is appropriate while you have braces is something we are happy to discuss.

The best way to keep your teeth bright is to keep up your regular dental routine! Brushing and flossing are more important than ever now, because plaque builds up around brackets. Avoid foods that stain teeth and rinse or brush after every meal and snack. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will show you the best way to take care of your teeth while your braces are on—and that includes the best way to keep them white and bright. Talk to us about the perfect time to whiten your beautiful smile during your next visit to our Middleton, WI office. And if you have to wait a few extra days for the smile you’ve been working toward, truly, the wait will be worth it!

Whitening Teeth with Braces

June 22nd, 2022

Now that you are working hard to improve your dental health and appearance with your braces, it might seem like a logical time to whiten your teeth as well. But should you go ahead with home kits or a professional whitening? The answer might be yes, but not quite yet!

Toothpaste

The easiest way to whiten teeth is regular use of a whitening toothpaste. But these do not make a major difference in tooth color and may also contain abrasives which can damage ceramic brackets and make them more likely to stain. And, whether you have metal or ceramic braces, the brackets used are bonded to your teeth. Any part of your tooth covered by a bracket will not be affected by the whitening paste. Ask our office if you are thinking of using one of these products. We will be happy to recommend the best toothpastes to use while your braces are in place.

Whitening Strips and Trays

Whiteners can be applied at home with strips or tray kits. Strips are coated with a whitening gel and then pressed around your teeth. Tray kits provide a mouthguard-like appliance, which is filled with whitening gel. But neither strips nor tray solutions will whiten any area covered by brackets. When your braces come off, there might be noticeable differences in color on each tooth. Strips are difficult to apply with braces, and trays need to be custom-designed to fit your braces and make sure they don’t disturb your orthodontic work. One size most definitely does not fit all! Finally, these whitening agents can cause tooth and gum sensitivity, especially around the time of adjustments. Many manufacturers do not recommend using their products while you have braces. Please talk to us if you are thinking of using them.

Professional Whitening

A dental professional can whiten your teeth in office for the best possible results. The most effective treatments for your unique teeth are combined with protective care of your gums and mouth. Whether this treatment is appropriate while you have braces is something we are happy to discuss.

The best way to keep your teeth bright is to keep up your regular dental routine! Brushing and flossing are more important than ever now, because plaque builds up around brackets. Avoid foods that stain teeth and rinse or brush after every meal and snack. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will show you the best way to take care of your teeth while your braces are on—and that includes the best way to keep them white and bright. Talk to us about the perfect time to whiten your beautiful smile during your next visit to our Middleton, WI office. And if you have to wait a few extra days for the smile you’ve been working toward, truly, the wait will be worth it!

Whitening Teeth with Braces

June 22nd, 2022

Now that you are working hard to improve your dental health and appearance with your braces, it might seem like a logical time to whiten your teeth as well. But should you go ahead with home kits or a professional whitening? The answer might be yes, but not quite yet!

Toothpaste

The easiest way to whiten teeth is regular use of a whitening toothpaste. But these do not make a major difference in tooth color and may also contain abrasives which can damage ceramic brackets and make them more likely to stain. And, whether you have metal or ceramic braces, the brackets used are bonded to your teeth. Any part of your tooth covered by a bracket will not be affected by the whitening paste. Ask our office if you are thinking of using one of these products. We will be happy to recommend the best toothpastes to use while your braces are in place.

Whitening Strips and Trays

Whiteners can be applied at home with strips or tray kits. Strips are coated with a whitening gel and then pressed around your teeth. Tray kits provide a mouthguard-like appliance, which is filled with whitening gel. But neither strips nor tray solutions will whiten any area covered by brackets. When your braces come off, there might be noticeable differences in color on each tooth. Strips are difficult to apply with braces, and trays need to be custom-designed to fit your braces and make sure they don’t disturb your orthodontic work. One size most definitely does not fit all! Finally, these whitening agents can cause tooth and gum sensitivity, especially around the time of adjustments. Many manufacturers do not recommend using their products while you have braces. Please talk to us if you are thinking of using them.

Professional Whitening

A dental professional can whiten your teeth in office for the best possible results. The most effective treatments for your unique teeth are combined with protective care of your gums and mouth. Whether this treatment is appropriate while you have braces is something we are happy to discuss.

The best way to keep your teeth bright is to keep up your regular dental routine! Brushing and flossing are more important than ever now, because plaque builds up around brackets. Avoid foods that stain teeth and rinse or brush after every meal and snack. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will show you the best way to take care of your teeth while your braces are on—and that includes the best way to keep them white and bright. Talk to us about the perfect time to whiten your beautiful smile during your next visit to our Middleton, WI office. And if you have to wait a few extra days for the smile you’ve been working toward, truly, the wait will be worth it!

Balancing Act

June 1st, 2022

We’re all trying to find a healthy balance in our lives. Balancing work and home life. Eating a well-balanced diet. Balancing our budgets. Maintaining the right pH balance in our mouths for better dental health. Wait, what was that last one?

You probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your pH levels, but if your oral pH is out of balance it can affect the health of your teeth.

What do we mean by pH levels? In biology and chemistry, the pH scale is a tool used to measure the concentration of hydrogen (H⁺) ions and hydroxide (OH⁻) ions in a solution.  

The higher the concentration of hydrogen atoms, the more acidic a solution. The higher the concentration of hydroxide ions, the more alkaline. The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, with the most acidic reading possible rating a 0, and the most alkaline, a 14.

You don’t have to be a biochemist to use the information provided by pH samples. We use pH readings to discover the ideal acid/alkaline conditions in many everyday applications. Azaleas grow best in very acidic soil. Swimming pools should be just a bit alkaline. Brewers test pH throughout the beer-making process for optimal fermentation—and taste.

When it comes to saliva, a neutral pH range of around 6.2 to 7.6 is generally considered normal. High alkalinity in saliva is rare. High acidity levels? Unfortunately, much more common. And an acidic environment has real-world consequences for teeth.

Plaque contains bacteria, which produce acids. Calcium and phosphate, the minerals that help make enamel the strongest substance in the body, are leached out by these acids. The weak spots left behind make enamel vulnerable to further erosion and, eventually, decay. When saliva has a normal, neutral pH, it helps neutralize plaque acids to reduce the risk of cavities.

But it’s not just bacteria that expose our teeth to acidic conditions—we do it ourselves with our choice of food and drink.

Acidic foods can directly lower the pH level in saliva. Lemon juice, for example, has a pH between 2 and 3. Red wine has a pH between 3 and 4. Blueberries? Around a 3.2. When the pH level in saliva becomes 5.5 or lower, the minerals in our teeth start to “demineralize,” or lose the minerals which keep enamel strong and intact—just the way enamel is demineralized by acids from plaque. This process is known as acid erosion.

Many of our favorite foods are acidic to some degree. Citrus and other fruits, pickled foods, vinegar, wine, coffee, tea—all of them can lower the optimal pH level of saliva. And sports drinks, energy drinks, and sodas? Check the labels and you’ll often find citric acid, phosphoric acid, and/or carbonation, all of which combine to create extremely erosive conditions.

So, no more soda? Or fruit? No. You don’t have to give up acidic foods altogether for healthy teeth. True, you won’t give up much eliminating soda from your diet. But fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, and meats are the source of essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins, and many of these healthy food choices have an acidic pH. How to eat nutritiously while protecting your enamel? Again, it’s a balancing act.

  • Enjoy acidic foods sparingly, or as part of a meal. Saliva can neutralize acids more effectively when they aren’t washing over your teeth all through the day.
  • Use a straw when you drink something with a low pH to reduce your enamel’s exposure to acids.
  • Balance high-acid foods with low-acid choices to help neutralize the acids in your diet. Add a banana to your blueberry smoothie. Pair your wine with some cheese.
  • Rinse with water after eating or drinking. When it comes to balanced pH, pure water is a 7.0 on the scale, a perfect neutral.
  • Chew sugarless gum to increase saliva production.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste—it not only helps prevent cavities, it helps remineralize teeth.

Even with your best efforts, acid erosion can be a problem. You might be experiencing enamel damage if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Tooth pain or sensitivity.
  • Teeth that appear discolored. This happens as the whiter enamel thins, revealing the yellowish dentin underneath.
  • Changes in the shape of your enamel—your teeth become rounded or have little dents or pits, known as cupping.
  • White spots on your teeth, which could be a sign of demineralization.

If you think you could be suffering from enamel erosion, it’s a good idea to talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk when you visit our Middleton, WI office. We can diagnose conditions causing acid erosion, treat you if enamel damage has occurred, and offer suggestions for diet and eating habits to make sure your oral pH—and your dental health—is always in balance.

Creating a Dental Home

May 25th, 2022

As a parent, you know how important a happy, relaxed atmosphere is when it comes to making your child feel at home. We would like to make our Middleton, WI practice your dental home, where you and your family enjoy the best of dental care in a warm and welcoming environment.

What makes a dental home?

  • It’s Welcoming

From your child’s first visit, we strive to make you both feel at ease. Our office is designed to be a happy, entertaining, and relaxing place, and our staff is trained in making little ones feel calm and secure. We want to have a lasting relationship, and we want you and your child to feel welcomed back whenever you return.

  • It’s Familiar

We recommend visiting our office for the first time by the time of your child’s first tooth or first birthday. Our early visits are designed to make your child familiar with what a dentist does and how a dentist helps keep children healthy. Regular preventative care will keep those little teeth in great shape, and, if your child has a cavity that needs filling or requires any other dental procedure, we will have a history together and a familiar place to experience an unfamiliar treatment.

  • It’s Comfortable

We use state-of-the-art dentistry to make sure your child has the best and most comfortable treatment as a patient, and we also consider the psychological aspect of each visit for your particular child. We are experienced in dealing with children who might feel anxious and working with them to overcome their worries. Part of our job is to make each visit a happy one, so your child is always comfortable visiting us.

  • It’s Ongoing

We want to establish a relationship that will last through the years. Continuity of care means that we are able to follow your child’s dental development during those active growing years and the transition from primary to permanent teeth. We provide not only dental health education, treatment, and preventive care, but can track any changes or potential problems before they become major issues. In case of a dental emergency, we will be familiar with your child personally, and with a dental history at hand.

Give Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk a call to talk about your child and how we can make the dental experience a positive one from the very beginning. When it comes to establishing a happy and healthy foundation for your child’s dental history, there’s no place like our dental home!

Fluoride Treatment: Do You Need One?

May 18th, 2022

Over the past decade, most people have been ingesting less and less fluoride. This is not such a great trend, since fluoride has a history of successfully reducing tooth decay and promoting good dental health. Most of us drink bottled water now, so many children and adults are not getting the optimum amount of fluoride they need. Of course, dental needs vary, depending on such factors as age, tooth sensitivity, medical conditions, and risk for cavities, but there are several ways to make sure you get the proper amount of fluoride.

Fluoride can be applied in the form of foam, varnish, or mouthwash. For children, topical fluoride can be useful in the early stages of development to ensure the future strength of enamel. For people who have a dry mouth as the result of medication to treat anxiety, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, or high cholesterol, a daily fluoride rinse is recommended, as well as a varnish treatment. 

If you’ve received or are receiving any form of cancer treatment, that could be affecting your dental health. If such is the case, fluoride varnish treatments are recommended prior to, during, and after chemotherapy. Getting an oral infection during cancer treatment can be especially harmful, so it’s worthwhile to do as much as you can to prevent that.

If you suspect you might be in need of a fluoride treatment or have any questions about the treatments hartstone dental offers, please feel free to give our Middleton, WI office a call!

Is there a correlation between my dental and cardiovascular health?

May 11th, 2022

YES!  Studies have shown a correlation between gum disease and heart disease, underscoring the importance of good oral health care. Cardiovascular disease remains American’s leading killer, claiming more lives than the rest of major causes of death, according to our friends at the American Heart Association. In fact, an estimated 80 percent of American adults currently have some form of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease.

Studies suggest that people with gum disease are believed to have an elevated risk of heart attack and stroke. Since most patients are not regularly visiting a heart specialist, their regular visits to our Middleton, WI office can help detect early warning signs of heart issues, prevent gum disease, or at the very least catch it at its early stage. We’d also like you to know your numbers: blood pressure (less than 120/80), cholesterol (less than 200) and BMI (less than 25).

There are many benefits to visiting hartstone dental in addition to maintaining your dental health. If it has been a while since your last visit, please give us a call!

Mamelons

May 4th, 2022

Quick trivia question: define “mamelon.” Some kind of warm blooded animal? No, not a member of the mammal clan, but good guess. A fruit of the gourd family? Nope! There are watermelons, and honeydew melons, and even canary melons, but no ma-melons. Those little rounded bumps you notice on the edge of your child’s permanent incisors when they first emerge? We have a winning answer!

  • Why Do We Have Mamelons?

We have eight incisors, or biting teeth, in the front of our mouths—four on top and four on bottom. Mamelons are actually a clue as to how these incisors were formed. Even before a baby is born, the permanent teeth begin to take shape. Three different groups of cells develop to form the incisal edge of these front teeth. As they fuse together, they create three lobes of enamel on the erupting edge of the tooth. It’s these lobes, or bumps, that give the teeth a serrated appearance.

Whether your child’s mamelons are quite prominent or barely noticeable, if you are worried about them, relax! They are almost always a temporary part of your child’s smile, and disappear over time with chewing and normal wear. But what if the mamelons overstay their welcome?

  • Cosmetic Concerns

Because mamelons are composed of enamel, without the underlying dentin layer found in the body of the tooth, they can appear translucent or a bit different in color. They might wear away unevenly, leaving the tooth edges looking misaligned. Or, they might not wear away at all if your child’s tooth eruption is delayed. Talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk if mamelons are a cosmetic concern for you or your child. You might discover that they are wearing away naturally, or we can discuss ways to polish or smooth them down if needed. This is a painless procedure that doesn’t require an anesthetic. Generally, however, this is a matter where time will resolve the issue for you.

  • Orthodontic Implications

Occasionally, mamelons might become a topic of discussion for orthodontic reasons. Sometimes, mamelons do not wear away over time because of a malocclusion (misaligned bite). Your orthodontist will let you know your child has a bite problem and can explain treatment options. Your orthodontist might also suggest smoothing away the mamelons to ensure that the edges of the incisors align correctly and symmetrically while the teeth are in the process of straightening. Again, this is not always considered a necessity, so weigh your options with your dental care provider.

So, if you notice that your child’s beautiful new teeth are bumpy or serrated as they erupt, don’t be concerned! If you have any questions about mamelons, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk at your next visit to our Middleton, WI office. This is a natural occurrence and most likely just a temporary “bump” in the road. Soon enough, mamelons will be a memory—and the answer to a pretty difficult trivia question.

Should You Get Dental Veneers?

April 27th, 2022

Dental veneers are a popular treatment to improve the appearance of your smile. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team want to help you understand whether this dental option is right for you.

Veneers, also known as laminates, are custom-made shells that cover the front of your teeth. They can change the color, size, or length of each individual tooth. The process can require between one and three trips to our Middleton, WI office to complete.

This treatment is usually done for people who want to change the appearance of their smile: they can get rid of stains, gaps, or chips. Here at hartstone dental, we know how getting veneers can dramatically change your smile and help improve your confidence.

Your initial appointment entails preparing the teeth and creating an impression. The impression will help us design each veneer to the exact shape and color you desire. You’ll come back in a week or two to have the veneers placed. Your veneers should last about ten years, as long as you practice proper care and hygiene.

There are plenty of benefits to getting veneers, but you should be aware of the potential downsides of this procedure. This process is irreversible and the veneers cannot usually be fixed. If they chip or crack, they’ll need to be replaced.

It is also possible for veneers to fall off due to excessive pressure from nail biting or chewing on ice. If you grind your teeth a lot, you’re more likely to expose your veneers to damage, which can be costly to repair.

In order to know whether veneers are right for you, schedule an appointment at our Middleton, WI office for a consultation. We can decide what you’re looking to do with your smile and if this is the best option for you.

What is an Impacted Tooth?

April 20th, 2022

You may have heard this term the first time you or a friend got your wisdom teeth. That makes sense, as wisdom teeth are the teeth most often impacted in teenagers and young adults. But other permanent teeth can be impacted as well. What exactly do we mean by “impacted teeth,” and what can we do to treat them?

The term “impacted” means that somehow a tooth has been blocked from erupting properly. A tooth may be completely blocked by another tooth, erupt in the wrong space, or even come in from the wrong direction. Depending on the teeth involved, there are several different options for treatment.

From Baby Teeth to Permanent Teeth

Normally, when children lose a baby tooth, a permanent tooth is right there, ready to take its place. But teeth don’t always behave according to plan. Occasionally, that baby tooth just won’t budge, and the permanent tooth starts to erupt behind it. When this happens, a simple baby tooth extraction will often let the permanent tooth move into its proper position on schedule.

A more complicated situation develops when upper teeth are impacted because there isn’t enough space in the mouth for them. In this case, a device called a palatal expander might be used to gradually widen the upper jaw to allow the permanent teeth to erupt without crowding.

In other rare cases, a tooth (often the canine) fails to erupt and may require oral surgery to uncover it, followed by orthodontic treatment to guide it into position.

Impacted teeth can result from other causes as well, and every impacted tooth should be treated as quickly as possible. Left untreated, the teeth can fail to erupt at all or erupt in the wrong place, crowd other permanent teeth, damage the roots of the teeth near them, and lead to difficulties eating and dental pain.

Wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are often a problem because there is simply not enough room in the jaw for them.

Wisdom teeth that are completely impacted (still in the jawbone) can sometimes be left alone if they aren’t causing other problems. But if impacted wisdom teeth develop cysts, affect the teeth around them, or lead to other dental complications, they should be extracted.

Partially erupted teeth, those that have begun to emerge through the gums but don’t erupt fully, can be the source of different gum and tooth problems. Because the gum tissue overlaps the tooth, food particles and bacteria can become trapped, leading to rapid tooth decay and even infection. In this case, extraction is probably the best option.

Be Proactive

The term “impacted” actually comes from the Latin root meaning “pushed against.” But teeth that don’t erupt at the right time, in the right place, can have a different kind of impact on dental health and appearance. And the earlier we can catch these problems, the easier it is to treat them.

Regular exams and X-rays with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk at our Middleton, WI office will show the progress of the teeth even before they erupt, and if there will be the space for them to fit in the mouth properly. We may recommend a visit to the orthodontist by the age of seven to see if there are any signs of potential orthodontic problems.

Intervention at an early stage can prevent potential problems from becoming major ones. That is why it’s so important to be proactive when teeth are erupting in children and young adults. After all, a healthy, confident smile makes a real impact!

My teeth don't line up any more. Why?

April 13th, 2022

If your teeth don't line up like they used to any more, you may be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder, often called TMD. This is a term that can actually be applied to any condition that occurs because the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is inflamed.

The temporomandibular joint is essentially the hinge that holds your lower jaw to your skull, and when it is inflamed or damaged in any way, it can be extremely painful. You have two temporomandibular joint, one on each side of your jaw, and it is typical to experience TMD in both sides at the same time.

Shifting of the Teeth

The reason that your teeth may not line up as they once did is that the ball and socket joints are often out of alignment and, as mentioned above, often very inflamed as a result. In order to correct the problem, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk may prescribe dental orthotics such as a lower jaw splint.

Sometimes, the wisdom teeth can play a role in the shifting of the teeth as well. If shifting wisdom teeth is combined with TMD, it may be necessary to have your wisdom teeth removed. Dental splints may follow if your teeth don't shift back to their proper positions on their own.

TMD is certainly a difficult thing to deal with, so if you experience your teeth shifting, scheduling an appointment at our Middleton, WI office is the smartest course. We want to help you get your smile back, so give us a call anytime.

Five Clues That It’s Time to Replace Your Toothbrush

April 6th, 2022

Your dashboard lights up when you need an oil change. Your smoke detector beeps when you need to switch out the batteries. But when it’s time to replace your toothbrush, you’re on your own. Luckily, there are several not-too-subtle clues that you should be shopping for a new model.

  • Fraying

Is your toothbrush looking a bit scruffy? Do those once orderly bristles look like they have the toothbrush equivalent of bed head? Have some bristles vanished altogether? Time to retire that toothbrush. Once the bristles are frayed, you just can’t reach plaque as effectively, especially where it likes to hide between the teeth.

Are you prematurely fraying? You could be brushing too hard. Overbrushing can damage delicate gum tissue and cause wear and tear to tooth enamel. If you find your brush fraying after only a few weeks of use, you might be using too much force. Remember, plaque is a sticky film, but it’s a soft sticky film. Ask us for advice on just how hard you need—or don’t need—to brush.

  • Odor

This one really goes without saying—no one wants an aromatic toothbrush! How to make sure your toothbrush is fresh and clean?

Always rinse carefully after you brush. This will get rid of any toothpaste, bits of food, or other particles left on your brush.

Let your toothbrush air dry. It might seem more hygienic to keep your brush covered in a bathroom setting, but a closed, moist container is a perfect breeding ground for germs. Don’t let them make a home in your bristles!

  • Illness

A cold or a bacterial infection (like strep throat) is no fun. But now that you’re feeling better, it might be time to throw out your toothbrush. The chances of re-infection are very low, unless your immune system is compromised, but this is a perfect opportunity to replace your brush with a fresh, germ-free model.

And if you share your toothbrush, or if you store it right next to a loved one’s or family member’s (which you really shouldn’t do, for this very reason), germs get shared, too. Quarantine your brush while you’re ill, and replace it once you’re out and about.

  • Discomfort

Bigger isn’t necessarily better. A brush with a head that’s too big won’t allow you to get into those small spaces in your mouth where plaque likes to collect.

And harder doesn’t mean more effective. A brush with hard bristles can cause damage to your gums and enamel. We almost always recommend soft-bristled brushes for this very reason.

There are so many styles of brush out there, you’re bound to find the perfect fit with a little trial and error. Or ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for suggestions the next time you’re at our Middleton, WI office for a cleaning!

  • The “Best By” Date Has Passed

Because of its durable construction, your toothbrush can last a long, long time. But no matter how comfortable and effective your toothbrush is right now, it was never meant to go through life with you. Bristles break down over a period of months, and just don’t clean as effectively. Your brush should be changed every three months, and this includes changing the head on your electric toothbrush.

Unfortunately, you don’t have a flashing light or annoying beep to remind you when it’s time to change brushes, so you’ll have to devise your own reminders. Reminder apps, calendar notes, the first day of a new season—use whatever works best for you. 

Don’t ignore the clues your toothbrush is leaving you. Replacing your brush whenever it’s necessary helps guarantee that the time you spend cleaning your teeth and gums will lead to confident, healthy smiles. Case closed!

What are dental implants?

March 30th, 2022

Do you have a space where a tooth used to be? Were you born with a missing tooth? Are you getting ready for dentures? You may be a good candidate for a dental implant. Metal dental implants were invented in 1965. Technology continues to advance with millions of implants placed in the United States and Canada. Placing implants has become mainstream and a common practice for offices like ours.

A dental implant is a small titanium post, which resembles a screw with threads. The post also has holes for bone to integrate. A dental implant is placed into the jawbone during a short dental procedure. It is relatively painless with very little post-operative pain. The threads on the implant post allow for the bone to fill in and integrate. To facilitate this process the implant is re-covered with gum tissue and allowed to heal and integrate for nearly three months. The implant acts as the root for the tooth to provide solid and stable support for the crown that’s yet to be placed.

The next step in the dental procedure is to uncover the implant and place a healing cap to allow the gum tissue to heal. After a short period of healing, an impression is taken to fabricate a crown to fully restore the missing tooth. The crown is then cemented on top of the post, at which point you can resume normal eating activities.

Dental implants do require some special care, but that is easily managed when you follow the directions outlined by Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk. During your regularly scheduled cleaning, special instruments are used to clean implants. While a dental implant cannot get a cavity, a condition known as peri-implantitis can occur. This is very similar to periodontal disease as the end result is dental implant loss and loss of bone structure. Be sure to floss the dental implant daily and run the floss under the implant crown as far as it can go to remove food and plaque. If you use any picks or small brushes to go in between your teeth, make sure they are plastic. Metal will scratch the implant making it more susceptible to infection. Be sure to keep your regular dental visits and cleanings to monitor the implant and help preserve your investment.

How can veneers improve my smile?

March 23rd, 2022

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team at hartstone dental know your smile is an important part of your appearance; it can be a source of pride or embarrassment. Everyone deserves beautiful, straight teeth that complement their features, but few are born with natural dental perfection. Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry has come a long way in recent years, with veneers making it possible to make over your smile completely.

With dental veneers, the smile of your dreams can become a reality. These thin, wafer-like shells are crafted of porcelain and completely customized to fit your smile. Once your tooth size, shape, and color have been determined, veneers are adhered to the surface of your natural tooth, instantly transforming your appearance. What used to be a secret of the rich and famous is now highly accessible to dental patients around the world.

Benefits of dental veneers

Appearance

Dental veneers are very natural in appearance and virtually undetectable to other people. Their non-porous surfaces make them resistant to staining, which ensures they do not change color over time.

Improvements

Dental veneers can be used to improve the appearance of many kinds of imperfections. In fact, an entirely new smile can be crafted from veneers, to cover up chipped teeth, discoloration, and gaps between teeth.

Durability

Veneers are long-lasting cosmetic enhancements that can survive many years with appropriate care and maintenance. They are specially fabricated to be resistant to scratches and chipping, which makes them a practical solution for the average person.

Flexibility

Dental veneers are highly adaptable. You can opt for only a single veneer to repair a chipped or cracked tooth, or you can modify multiple teeth at once for a smile makeover.

Considerations

Keep in mind that cosmetic treatments like dental veneers are secondary to primary dental care. You must have healthy teeth and disease-free gums to be a candidate for cosmetic procedures. An initial consultation at our convenient Middleton, WI office will reveal any underlying decay or other problems that must be addressed prior to getting veneers. Give us a call today!

Getting to the Bottom of Chewing Gum Myths

March 16th, 2022

It's a moment many of our patients have experienced. One second you're chewing on a piece of gum, then suddenly you forget to keep chewing and swallow the entire rubbery gob whole! It's at this point you remember your mother warning you as a child that if you swallow gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your belly for seven years. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team at hartstone dental hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter your stomach and move through your digestive system just like any other piece of food. So, if you ever accidentally swallow a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!

That being said, it's important to know that gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not exactly harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are an avid gum-chewer, we encourage you to chew sugarless gum, especially if you are wearing braces, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but has fewer cavity-causing ingredients. In fact, many brands contain an additive called xylitol, a natural sweetener known to fight cavity-causing bacteria. Xylitol is also known to increase salivary flow as it rinses away plaque and acid.

The fact is, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long-term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!

If you have any questions about chewing gum, please contact our office. Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!

How to Subtract Those Added Sugars

March 9th, 2022

Sugars are the simplest carbohydrates, and are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products. Our bodies require these simple carbs for energy. (Even better, we don’t just get energy from fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy—we also get healthy amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and even some protein!)

Problems arise when we get too much of this good thing. Once our bodies have all the sugar they need for immediate energy, they store extra sugars in liver, muscle, and fat cells. Over time, excess dietary sugars can affect weight and blood sugar levels, with potentially damaging results.

And, of course, sugar has an immediate effect on our oral health. The oral bacteria in plaque also need sugars for energy, which they use to make acids. An acidic environment in the mouth dissolves the minerals, which keep our tooth enamel strong. And these weak spots are vulnerable to decay. A steady diet of sugar-filled foods means that your enamel is constantly under acid attack.

So it’s really no wonder we hear a lot about avoiding “added sugars” in our diets, for both our general health and for our dental health in particular. But the concept of “added sugar” can be a bit misleading. If you’re not putting five spoons of sugar on your breakfast cereal, or pouring half a jar of honey in your tea, or using a recipe that calls for a cup of corn syrup, you might think you’re avoiding added sugars altogether. And that’s just not the case.

When dieticians talk about added sugars in our foods, they mean additional refined sugars (like white and brown sugars and corn syrup) that are used in preparing or processing foods.

Unlike unprocessed foods, which have been minimally treated to keep them as natural as possible, processed foods have been baked, or frozen, or mixed with other foods, or somehow changed from their natural state. This is where “added sugars” come in. Both home cooks and commercial processors use sugar to improve flavor, provide sweetness, and extend shelf life when preparing food.

What are some of the worst offenders? Store bought or homemade desserts like cakes and ice cream are prime candidates. Sodas? Most definitely. But it’s not just the obvious culprits. Added sugars are found in many foods we usually think of as healthy, including:

  • Smoothies
  • Fruit Drinks
  • Energy Drinks
  • Granola Bar
  • Power Bars
  • Breakfast Cereal
  • Flavored Yogurt

While eating unprocessed foods is one way to make sure you get no added sugars, you can also eliminate many grams of sugar from your daily diet by trying out low-sugar recipes and choosing processed foods with little or no added sugar.

How to avoid unexpected added sugars? Fortunately, new labelling on food packages lets us know not only how much sugar is in any product, but how much added sugar has found its way into our grocery cart. Take a moment to check out labels, and avoid sugary surprises.

Your body can get all the natural sugar and carbs it needs for energy from a healthy, well-balanced diet. Lowering your added sugar intake won’t deprive your body of necessary nutrients, but it will deprive oral bacteria of their most convenient food source and reduce the amount of acids, which threaten your enamel. In fact, subtracting extra sugars is one of the easiest and most effective ways to add to your dental health!

If you have any questions about reducing your sugar intake, be sure to ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk the next time you visit our Middleton, WI office.

Charcoal Toothpaste

March 2nd, 2022

Despite the extraordinary claims made for charcoal toothpaste, most dentists think that the accuracy of these claims is a very gray area. So, what is the theory behind using activated charcoal in your toothpaste?

Charcoal is in its natural form is a very porous substance. When mixed with oxidizing gases or chemicals at very high heat, the inner structure of charcoal becomes even more porous. This enables the “activated” charcoal to absorb chemicals. And activated charcoal, in fact, IS used as a treatment for certain poisons. Fans of charcoal toothpaste maintain that this same porosity enables the toothpaste to collect toxins, bacteria, and debris from the surface of your teeth, leading to a healthier mouth, fresher breath, and a whiter smile.

Sounds great! Should I buy some?

Maybe not quite yet.

  • Claims that charcoal toothpastes whiten teeth more than other over the counter whiteners are difficult to prove. But even using the best charcoal product, you are getting a superficial cleaning. Because charcoal toothpaste removes stains only from the surface of the enamel, it is no match for a professional whitening.
  • It’s abrasive. Harsh pastes and brushing could potentially cause thinner enamel. Thinning enamel reveals more of the darker dentin underneath, which can actually make your smile appear yellow. Abrasive pastes can be irritating for those with sensitive or compromised gum tissue. Any toothpaste you choose should never be so abrasive as to cause damage to teeth or gums.
  • If you use only charcoal toothpaste, you might not get the amount of fluoride needed to protect your teeth. And no toothpaste can take the place of regular brushing, flossing, and checkups at our Middleton, WI office.
  • If you’ve seen the photos posted of charcoal enthusiasts with sooty smiles and teeth, you know brushing with charcoal toothpaste can be a messy process. You might need to take extra care to clean your mouth, teeth, and tongue after using. And your sink.

If you are still intrigued by the idea of charcoal toothpaste, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team are happy to discuss it with you. And if teeth whitening is your concern, we have some proven methods to achieve your best results—even if they don’t provide an opportunity for dramatic charcoal selfies!

Fluoride Use in Adolescents

February 23rd, 2022

Fluoride is a mineral that plays an essential role in oral health. In fact, the significant reduction in American tooth decay in recent decades can be attributed to a greater availability of fluoride in public water supplies, toothpaste, and other resources. When it comes in contact with the teeth, fluoride helps protect the enamel from acid and plaque bacteria. In some cases, it can even reverse tooth decay in its earliest stages.

Despite the benefits of fluoride, tooth decay is still common, especially among teenagers. The Centers for Disease Control reports that cavities can be found in more than half of young teens and two-thirds of older teens over age 16. Many of those teens are deficient in fluoride, either due to a lack of public water fluoridation or the use of bottled water. So how can parents ensure their teens are getting the fluoride they need to facilitate strong, healthy teeth?

Monitor Fluoride Exposure

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team at hartstone dental recommend you start by measuring your teen’s fluoride exposure. Make sure you purchase fluoridated toothpaste for your household, and find out if your tap water is fluoridated. If your teen primarily consumes bottled water, examine the bottle to determine whether fluoride has been added. The majority of bottled waters are not supplemented with fluoride, but those that are will be clearly labeled.

Fluoride Supplementation

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk may recommend topical fluoride treatments at routine dental exams. These treatments are painless for your teen and may help establish stronger enamel that is more resistant to plaque and tooth decay. If you have a public water supply that is non-fluoridated, we may recommend fluoride supplementation between visits. These can be administered as drops, tablets, or vitamins.

Keep in mind that fluoride is most important for children and teens under the age of 16. Be proactive about your teen’s oral health by speaking with us about your family’s fluoride needs at your next dental visit.

For more information about fluoride, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk, please give us a call at our convenient Middleton, WI office!

Root Canal Recovery

February 16th, 2022

Anyone who has had a compromised tooth knows that the amount of discomfort it causes can be extremely unpleasant. Although no one looks forward to a root canal, this procedure is actually the best way to both eliminate pain and save your tooth. If the pulp inside your tooth is infected or damaged, a root canal is probably necessary.  

The process is relatively straightforward and can take place over one or two visits to our Middleton, WI office. The area around the tooth is numbed, the pulp is removed from the inside of the tooth, the area is thoroughly cleaned, and a temporary filling or crown is placed on the tooth to prevent bacteria and food from entering the site. A permanent crown will be fabricated and affixed to the tooth at a later visit.

Once your root canal is finished, recovery is usually only a matter of days. What can you to keep yourself as comfortable as possible during that time?

  • The area around the affected tooth might be somewhat sore or sensitive for a few days. Let us know, and we can talk about medication to reduce pain and inflammation. If you are prescribed antibiotics, be sure to take the entire course of medication as directed.
  • Taking an ibuprofen (if this is a pain reliever that is safe for you) before the anesthetic wears off will reduce the soreness in the hours immediately after the procedure.
  • Wait until the numbness is gone before eating to avoid biting down on a temporary filling (or your tongue). Hot drinks are also best avoided.
  • Avoid chewing on the side of the affected tooth until the restoration is complete. A soft diet is recommended for the first several days—chewy, sticky, and crunchy foods should wait.
  • Continue with regular brushing and flossing.
  • Call Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk immediately if you experience severe pain or visible swelling, if you have an allergic response to medication, if your bite feels uneven, or if you lose the temporary filling.

Follow the instructions we’ll give you carefully, and feel free to call us with any concerns. We want to ensure that your root canal is as pain-free and worry-free as possible.

What to do about Dry Mouth

February 9th, 2022

Xerostomia, commonly known as dry mouth, is a condition in which the salivary glands in the mouth don’t produce enough saliva. Saliva keeps the mouth moist and cleanses it of bacteria. A lack of it makes for an uncomfortably dry mouth that is also more susceptible to infection and disease.

Symptoms of dry mouth include:

  • Dryness or a sticky feeling
  • Frequent thirst
  • Burning sensations or redness in the throat or on the tongue
  • A sore throat or hoarseness
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or tasting food

Dry mouth usually comes about as a side effect of certain medications or medical conditions, but can also be caused by damage to the salivary glands because of injury or surgery.

If you're experiencing any of the symptoms of dry mouth, here are a few tips for what to do:

Double-check medications: If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications, speak with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk to see if any of these could be causing the dry mouth as a side effect.

There may be ways to alleviate the symptoms.

  • Stay hydrated: Whether you have dry mouth or not, it’s essential to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fresh and pure water throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day.
  • Suck or chew on a natural, sugar-free candy or gum: Sucking on candy or chewing gum will keep your salivary glands producing saliva. Healthier versions of sugar-free candy and gum are available these days. Some are made with xylitol, a sugar alcohol that actually helps prevent tooth decay.
  • Add moisture to your living spaces: Try adding a vaporizer to your bedroom or the rooms where you spend the most time. It’s best for your home to have a humidity level of between 40 to 50%. Anything less than 30% is too low. You can measure humidity with a hygrometer, which is easy to find at your local department store or online.

These are just a few general tips, but if you’re experiencing the symptoms of dry mouth often and it’s interfering with your life, pay a visit to our Middleton, WI office. That way you’re more likely to get to the root of the problem.

How can veneers improve my smile?

February 2nd, 2022

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team at hartstone dental believe everyone’s smile should be a something they can be proud of. Most of us aren’t born with naturally perfect teeth, though, so it’s fortunate that cosmetic dentistry and veneers make it possible to achieve the smile of your dreams!

Dental veneers are a great option to improve your smile and are highly accessible to patients around the world. They’re made of porcelain and will be customized to fit the surface of your teeth perfectly. Our team will note your tooth size, color, and shape so your veneers will look completely natural.

Benefits of dental veneers

Appearance: Dental veneers can be undetectable to others because they look so natural. One of the best perks is that they are resistant to stains, so you don’t have to worry about discoloration over time.

Improvements: Not only will your smile look better, but many minor imperfections can be improved with dental veneers as well. Chipped teeth, discoloration, and gaps will be covered by your veneers.

Durability: Veneers are made from long-lasting porcelain materials, which means they are resistant to scratches and chipping. If you take care of them properly, they can look as good as new for years!

Flexibility: Patients have the option of choosing single veneers to repair chips or cracks in teeth or go for multiple teeth to create a completely new smile.

Considerations

Just because dental veneers can cover imperfections, that doesn’t mean your oral hygiene is any less vital. Your teeth and gums should be healthy and disease-free in order to be eligible for veneers.

Set up an initial consultation at our Middleton, WI office today, and we can address any underlying issues you may have. Your perfect smile could be just a phone call away!

 

Make Your Smile Dazzling For Your Wedding!

January 19th, 2022

Planning a wedding can be a highly stressful time. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team want to support you in this process by helping you achieve a beautiful, bright smile. Wedding days entail a lot of photographs that will last a lifetime. We know how crucial it can be that you have a smile that makes you feel confident throughout this memorable day.

Whether you’re the bride or groom, a member of the wedding party, or just a guest, a teeth-whitening treatment from Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can give you extra confidence. Even when you’ve made the proper effort to keep up your oral health routine, staining still can appear on your teeth from foods and beverages over time. You can do several things to make sure your smile is in top shape before a wedding.

Our in-office whitening treatment is a good option if you’re looking for an investment that can last. If you’ve tried whitening kits on your own, you may have noticed they have to be used frequently to maintain the bright smile you desire.

Professional whitening treatments done by hartstone dental are quite comfortable and have long-lasting effects. You can also use whitening toothpaste and mouthwash to keep your teeth bright between in-office whitening treatments.

Our staff can also provide helpful advice on how to avoid staining between your whitening treatment and the big day. If you’re concerned that you may have to hold back your smile on your wedding day or some other pending event, contact our Middleton, WI office and ask about our whitening treatment options.

Is a Loose Tooth a Lost Tooth? Not Necessarily!

January 12th, 2022

When we were small, a loose tooth wasn’t a reason to be worried. On the contrary! It was a time to celebrate: A permanent tooth on the way. A sign that you were growing up. Perhaps even a lucrative visit from the Tooth Fairy. Losing a baby tooth had quite a few benefits.

Now that we’re grown, no such benefits are in store for us, because a lost adult tooth is gone for good. That’s why any time you notice a loose tooth you need to call Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk immediately. With prompt dental care, that tooth might be saved.

But first, a word about how our teeth stay firmly rooted in the jaw.

  • The visible part (crown) of a tooth is protected by a layer of enamel. The root below is covered with a protective layer called cementum.
  • There is a socket for each tooth in the alveolar bone of the jaw, where each root is firmly attached within the socket by the periodontal ligament which surrounds it.
  • This ligament is made up of connective tissue, which attaches both to the cementum covering the root and to the alveolar bone. It not only holds the tooth in place, it cushions the tooth from the daily pressure of biting and chewing.
  • The gums surround the teeth and bone, protecting them from bacteria.

If the tooth, bone, ligament, or gums suffer damage, the result can be a loose tooth.

Treating a Loose Tooth

The treatment you receive will depend on the reason your tooth is loose. There are many situations which can lead to a loose tooth or teeth, and many treatment options available to you. Some of the common causes and potential treatments include:

  • Accident or Trauma

If you have suffered a tooth or jaw injury as a result of an accident or trauma, it’s very important to see your dentist or doctor immediately. You should be carefully examined to determine whether there is damage to other teeth or the jaw. Serious tooth or jaw bone injury might require treatment by an oral surgeon.

In some cases of damage to the periodontal ligament or tooth, even if your tooth is loose or extruded (partially out of its socket), it can be stabilized in place so that the ligament and tissue around it has time to heal.

We’ll make sure the root, nerves, and blood vessels are still intact, position the tooth back in its socket, and then anchor it to the adjacent teeth with a flexible splint for several weeks. In the case of an alveolar or a root fracture, a rigid splint may be used.

Splinting gives the periodontal ligament and bone surrounding it time to heal while keeping your injured tooth from further displacement.

  • Bite problems & Bruxism

Your teeth are designed to withstand a lot of pressure—in fact, in some ways, pressure is essential for healthy teeth and bone. The normal pressure of chewing and biting stimulates bone tissue in the jaw. When a tooth is lost, that stimulation is gone and the result is gradual bone loss in the area underneath the lost tooth.

But sometimes, the pressure exerted by a malocclusion (bad bite) or bruxism (tooth grinding) is too forceful. The connective tissue which holds the teeth in place is damaged by these forces, and loose teeth can be the result.

If you have a serious malocclusion, an orthodontist can provide the relief you need with braces or aligners. If your bite problem is caused by a tooth or teeth which are a bit too high, the enamel can be carefully contoured and reshaped. In some cases, splints, either temporary or permanent, can also be used to stabilize several adjacent teeth so that any biting or chewing force is spread over the section as a whole.

If you grind your teeth, a night guard can be custom fitted to provide relief from the pressures and impact of tooth clenching and grinding. This special kind of mouth guard is known as an occlusal splint.

  • Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis causes a loss of bone density throughout the body. Studies suggest that this disease can affect bone in the jaw, leading to weaker bone and looser teeth. Your physician will provide your best medical alternatives, and be sure to let us now if you are taking medication for osteoporosis before we plan your dental treatment.

  • Periodontal Disease

Gum disease is one of the major causes of loose—and lost—teeth. Early gum disease, called gingivitis, should be treated promptly to avoid a more serious condition called periodontitis. Periodontitis can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets for bacterial growth and infection. Left untreated, this infection results in connective tissue and bone loss.

If you have serious gum disease, we might suggest a visit to a periodontist, a specialist trained in the treatment of the gums, periodontal ligaments, and bone surrounding the teeth. Deep cleaning procedures such as scaling and root planing, topical and oral antibiotics, and oral surgeries such as flap surgery or bone and tissue grafting can help reverse the effects of periodontitis. Bone loss cannot be reversed, but a graft can replace lost bone and allow healthy tissue to regenerate.

  • Pregnancy

Hormonal changes can cause the ligaments and bone around your teeth to loosen, which can lead to loose teeth. While this might be an alarming development, it’s generally a temporary condition. Talk to us about how to take care of your teeth and gums during your pregnancy.

Hormonal changes can also make your gums more vulnerable to irritation and infection. In fact, swollen and tender gums are often one of the first signs of pregnancy. That’s another reason it’s very important to keep up with dental hygiene during pregnancy. If your gums are red, swollen, bleeding, or tender, give us a call. A periodontist can be especially helpful if gum problems persist.

What to do if you have a loose tooth

  • Call us immediately. Timely professional care can mean the difference between saving your tooth and losing it.
  • Avoid wiggling the tooth. This could loosen it further.
  • Protect your loose tooth. Eat soft foods, and try not to chew near the affected area. And while a liquid diet might sound like a good idea, no straws, please. Straws require suction, which can further dislodge your tooth.
  • Keep the area clean, gently.

What to do if a tooth can’t be saved

Baby teeth become loose and fall out because the permanent teeth coming in erode the smaller roots holding them in place. That’s why it’s so easy for parents to help their child’s wiggly baby tooth find its way from mouth to Tooth Fairy.

Adult roots, however, involve alveolar bone, ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves, so an extraction really needs to be done by a professional. We will also examine you carefully to discover the reason for the tooth loss, and to prevent further damage with additional treatment as needed.

Finally, if you do lose a permanent tooth, there is still much that can be done to restore your smile. Modern implants are almost indistinguishable from natural teeth, and, what’s more, they function just like natural teeth to stimulate the bone beneath them.

If you have any worries about your teeth, contact our Middleton, WI office. A loose tooth is never a cause for celebration, but, with proper dental care, a loose tooth doesn’t always lead to a lost tooth. Restoring a firm bite and a heathy, confident smile? That’s a reason to celebrate!

Make this the Year You Stop Smoking

January 5th, 2022

It’s a new year, and it couldn’t come fast enough for many of us! Let’s do our part to make this a better year in every way—and you can start by making this the year you quit smoking once and for all.

You know that smoking is very damaging to your body. Smokers are more likely to suffer from lung disease, heart attacks, and strokes. You’re at greater risk for cancer, high blood pressure, blood clots, and blood vessel disorders. With far-reaching consequences like this, it’s no surprise that your oral health suffers when you smoke as well.

How does smoking affect your teeth and mouth?

  • Appearance

While this is possibly the least harmful side effect of smoking, it’s a very visible one. Tar and nicotine start staining teeth right away. After months and years of smoking, your teeth can take on an unappealing dark yellow, orange, or brown color. Tobacco staining might require professional whitening treatments because it penetrates the enamel over time.

  • Plaque and Tartar

Bacterial plaque and tartar cause cavities and gum disease, and smokers suffer from plaque and tartar buildup more than non-smokers do. Tartar, hardened plaque that can only be removed by a dental professional, is especially hard on delicate gum tissue.

  • Bad Breath

The chemicals in cigarettes linger on the surfaces of your mouth causing an unpleasant odor, but that’s not the only source of smoker’s breath. Smoking also dries out the mouth, and, without the normal flow of saliva to wash away food particles and bacteria, bad breath results. Another common cause of bad breath? Gum disease, which is also found more frequently among smokers.

  • Gum Disease

Smoking has been linked to greater numbers of harmful oral bacteria in the mouth and a greater risk of gingivitis (early gum disease). Periodontitis, or severe gum disease, is much more common among smokers, and can lead to bone and tooth loss. Unsurprisingly, tooth loss is also more common among smokers.  

  • Implant Failure

Tooth implants look and function like our original teeth, and are one of the best solutions for tooth loss. While implant failure isn’t common, it does occur significantly more often among smokers. Studies suggest that there are multiple factors at work, which may include a smoker’s bone quality and density, gum tissue affected by constricted blood vessels, and compromised healing.

  • Healing Ability

Smoking has been linked to weakened immune systems, so it’s harder to fight off an infection and to heal after an injury. Because smoking affects the immune system’s response to inflammation and infection, smokers suffering from gum disease don’t respond as well to treatment. Smokers experience a higher rate of root infections, and smoking also slows the healing process after oral surgeries or trauma.

  • Dry Socket

Smoking following a tooth extraction can cause a painful condition called “dry socket.” After extraction, a clot forms to protect the tooth socket. Just as this clot can be dislodged by sucking through a straw or spitting, it can also be dislodged by the force of inhaling and exhaling while smoking.

  • Oral Cancer

Research has shown again and again that smoking is the single most serious risk factor for oral cancer. Studies have also shown that you reduce your risk of oral cancer significantly when you quit smoking.

Quitting smoking is a major accomplishment that will improve your life on every level. It’s always a good idea to talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for strategies to help you achieve your wellness goals for the new year. Make this the year you stop smoking, and the year your health improves in countless ways because you did.

Resolving to Eat Better in the New Year

December 29th, 2021

It’s a new year, and a resolution found on many lists is learning to be more mindful about healthy food choices. You might have set some of these goals yourself. Gaining, losing, or maintaining your current weight. More fruits and veggies. Better proteins. Less sugar. Fewer carbs. You want to make this new year your healthiest year yet.

And while you’re making your new and improved shopping list, don’t forget your oral health! Because while brushing and flossing are extremely important, your diet can also have very real benefits for your teeth and gums.

Stronger Teeth and Jaws

We often talk about teeth and bones together, and that’s natural. Calcium and phosphorus, as well as other minerals, make them the strongest parts of our bodies. When teeth lose mineral strength, they are more vulnerable to cavities, and bone loss in the jaw can cause loose or even lost teeth.

Making sure you get the recommended daily amount of the minerals and vitamins you need will help sustain and repair both teeth and bones. A diet rich in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D helps build strong bones and promotes bone density. While your teeth can’t create new enamel, minerals that are eroded by acids from plaque and acidic foods can be restored, or remineralized, with the calcium and phosphates in saliva.

  • Calcium

Strong teeth and bones need calcium. More than 99% of the calcium in our bodies is located in our teeth and bones. How to make sure we get enough?

Dairy products are the traditional answer. Several servings of milk, cheese, or yogurt each day supply most of our needs. If you can’t eat dairy, though, calcium is also found in other foods, such as salmon, sardines, many dark leafy vegetables, and fortified juices, tofu, and cereals.

  • Phosphorus

Calcium gets most of the attention when it comes to creating strong teeth and bones, but it’s not a solo act. We need phosphorus to make full use of the calcium in our diets.

Proteins like meat, fish, and poultry are good sources of phosphorus, as are beans, nuts, whole grains and dairy.

  • Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a diet essential because it enables us to absorb the calcium and phosphorus that keep teeth and bones strong.

Most dairy and many other foods are fortified with vitamin D, such as cow’s milk, soymilk, orange juice, and cereals. Egg yolks and fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and herring, are also a rich natural source of the vitamin.

Healthy Gums

Gum disease is more than just a nuisance. Left untreated, gingivitis (early gum disease) can become periodontitis (serious gum disease). Periodontitis can cause infection, loose teeth, and tooth and bone loss.

Brushing and flossing promote gum health and help prevent gum disease, but your diet plays an important role, too.  

  • Vitamin A

Vitamin A is essential for the health and healing of mucous membranes, including gum tissue and the soft membranes in the mouth.

You can get this vitamin directly from animal products such as dairy foods and meats, or it can be formed in the body from beta-carotenes. Think orange when you hit the produce aisle, because foods such as carrots, peppers, pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes are a rich source of beta-carotenes.

  • Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the so-called “essential nutrients.” These are the nutrients that are necessary for our bodies to function properly, and which can only be supplied in our diets. Vitamin C is vital for healthy gums and soft tissue—in fact, one sign that your diet is deficient in vitamin C is inflamed and bleeding gums.

Citrus fruits, those oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and all their cousins, are a wonderful source of vitamin C, but you have many other flavorful options. Fruits such as kiwis, mangos, papayas, and strawberries are rich in vitamin C. Step over to the vegetable aisle to load up on red peppers, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli—all of which contain more vitamin C per serving than a medium orange!

Fewer Cavities

Plaque thrives on a diet of sugar. Oral bacteria in plaque use the sugars in our food to produce acids. These acids erode enamel and eventually lead to cavities. Limiting your sugar consumption and choosing complex carbohydrates over simple carbs are two ways to reduce your risk of cavities.

  • Sugars

The usual suspects—candies, desserts, pastries, sodas—are sugar-filled items you’re familiar with. What might surprise you is the amount of sugar in sports drinks, fruit juices, flavored yogurts, breakfast cereals, and other standard grocery purchases. Checking labels for sugar content is a great way to cut down on unexpected sweeteners.

  • Carbs

The refined starches in white bread, white rice, potato chips, and other simpler carbohydrates quickly break down into sugars. This is the kind of nutrition only plaque appreciates.

Instead, fill your cart with complex carbohydrates, which contain important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Found in foods like whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes, and many vegetables, complex carbs break down slowly for longer-lasting energy.

Of course, these suggestions don’t cover everything on your healthy dental shopping list. We could add magnesium for bone density, vitamin B to prevent oral irritation and inflammation, vitamin K for bone strength, and more. To find out the best options for your healthiest smile, talk to Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk or a member of our Middleton, WI team about ideas for improving your daily diet.

Because besides leading to stronger teeth, healthier gums, and fewer cavities, a careful and conscious approach to your food choices has another wonderful benefit—a healthy dental diet is healthy for the rest of your body as well. Just something to be mindful of as we greet the new year!

Common Causes of Gum Disease

December 22nd, 2021

Your gums are responsible for a large part of your overall oral health. So keeping them healthy and knowing how to detect gum disease is extremely important.

Since it’s often painless, gum disease may go unnoticed and can progress when left untreated. Understanding the causes of gum disease will give you the ability to keep your oral health in great shape:

  • Bacteria and Plaque. Good hygiene helps remove bacteria and plaque from teeth. When plaque is not removed, it turns into a rock-like substance called tartar, which can only be removed by a dentist.
  • Smoking and Tobacco. Smokers and tobacco users put themselves at a higher risk of developing gum disease. Tobacco use can also stain your teeth, give you bad breath, and increase the risk of oral cancer. It’s best to avoid using tobacco altogether.
  • Certain Medications. Ironically, certain medications for other health conditions can increase your risk of developing gum disease. Talk with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk if you have concerns about a medication you are taking. Steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, certain cancer therapy medications, and oral contraceptives can be among the culprits.
  • Medical Conditions. Certain medical conditions can also affect your gum health. Diabetics can have an increased risk of gum disease due to the inflammatory chemicals in their bodies. Talk to our team about your health condition so we can take that into account when treating you.

Luckily, there are actions you can take to prevent gum disease. You should make regular visits to our Middleton, WI office for regular cleanings. It’s also worthwhile to maintain good hygiene habits at home, such as flossing and brushing at least two times every day.

Good oral hygiene practice and visits to our Middleton, WI office can help you eliminate or reduce the risks of developing gum disease!

Is Charcoal Teeth Whitening Safe?

December 15th, 2021

Health and beauty trends surface on the web every day, and it can be difficult to tell which ones are worth your time, or even safe, for that matter. Perhaps one of the biggest dental trends recently on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram has been teeth whitening through brushing with activated charcoal.

Unfortunately, charcoal whitening isn’t everything the Internet makes it out to be. Activated charcoal isn’t what you use to grill at a summer barbecue; it’s an oxidized substance made from peat, coal, wood, coconut shell or petroleum heated with a gas.

Toxins and surface stains can cling to charcoal due to its adhesive qualities, which is why some people declare it’s perfect for removing discoloration on teeth. Although it may show quick results initially, charcoal is nothing more than a temporary solution.

The abrasive texture may roughen up enamel, which will make it easier for future stains to stick to the surface of your teeth. They may show stains shortly after you use charcoal on them, and may become even more discolored than before.

It’s crucial to emphasize the results of damaged tooth enamel because it cannot replenish itself, which means any damage is permanent. People with receding gums or sensitive teeth especially should steer clear of charcoal because it can make brushing too harsh and worsen sensitivity.

Long-time use can deplete enamel, which over time exposes dentin: the soft, yellowish layer in the tooth. This puts you at a higher risk for cavities, tooth discoloration, and complicated dental problems such as periodontal disease in the future.

The American Dental Association does not approve of charcoal as a safe means for whitening teeth. If you do choose to use it, do so with caution.

Charcoal should be used once every other week at the most, even if your teeth feel fine. The only proven ways to whiten teeth safely are with ADA-approved whitening products or in-office bleaching treatments overseen by a dental professional.

Before you begin any whitening treatment at home, consult with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk to make sure your teeth won’t be harmed in the process. If you are already experiencing sensitivity, stop charcoal use immediately and make an appointment with our office right away.

If you have questions about whitening or want to schedule an in-office whitening treatment, feel free to give our Middleton, WI office a call today!

We are committed to your oral health!

December 8th, 2021

Dental visits are often negatively associated with discomfort in many people’s minds. But at hartstone dental, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team have created an atmosphere focused on dispelling those myths. Our team is truly passionate about dentistry, and we are trained to gently accommodate each individual patient’s needs, with every procedure and visit performed with the utmost focus on your comfort.

If you are a patient of record at hartstone dental, we are committed to your oral health and are available to you. If you would like to learn more about stress-free dentistry at our Middleton, WI office, or to schedule an appointment, we encourage you to give us a call!

What exactly is periodontal disease?

December 1st, 2021

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. Our team at hartstone dental wants you to know that this common ailment can be fixed with little worry if treated properly.

Periodontal disease is usually identified through dental X-rays, probe depths, and visual exams. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth sensitivity, premature tooth loss, or discomfort and pain in your mouth. Some common symptoms to watch for include bleeding or swollen gums, bad breath, teeth movement, or jaw displacement.

Factors that may increase your risk of developing periodontal disease may include poor oral hygiene, smoking/chewing tobacco, genetics, stress, inadequate nutrition, pregnancy, diabetes, and some medications. Some of these causes are avoidable, but others are not.

If you have diabetes, you may be more prone to periodontal disease due to the greater difficulty in controlling blood glucose levels. Studies have shown that once periodontal disease is treated, glucose levels become more responsive to control as well. If your risk for periodontal disease is heightened by one of these factors, make sure to watch for the signs and keep up with your daily oral hygiene routine.

How can you treat this common disease that affects almost half of the population? Depending on the severity, treatment can include a medicated mouth rinse, antibiotic treatment, laser therapy, or scaling and root planing. It’s useful to recall that this condition can vary from mild to severe, which is why you should make an appointment at our Middleton, WI office if you notice any of the above symptoms.

 

What to Do If You Lose a Filling

November 24th, 2021

It really doesn’t happen very often. But sometimes you bite into something that is much harder than you anticipated. Sometimes you grind your teeth without realizing the pressure you’re putting on them. Sometimes you have a cavity that has stealthily developed beneath an earlier filling. And the result is—sometimes you lose a filling.

What to do when this happens? If you’re at a loss for ideas, we have some suggestions.

  • Don’t panic

Usually, a cracked, broken, or lost filling is not an emergency situation. That being said, it’s still important to . . .

  • Call us immediately

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will be able to give you the best advice as to how to take care of your tooth until you can make an appointment. And if your dental problem might be a dental emergency, we can make sure you are seen as soon as possible.

  • Take care of your tooth

Keep your tooth and the area around it clean. Brush gently to keep food particles away from the newly exposed tooth surface. You can (carefully) rinse around the area with a bit of water or salt water as recommended.

Your lost filling might not inconvenience you at all. But if you feel sensitivity when the tooth is exposed to air, or when you eat hot or cold foods, or if you feel pain when you bite down, let us know. We can recommend some over the counter medications and pain relievers that can help.

If you’re experiencing severe pain, call us at once.

  • Diet

This might not be the time for sticky caramels, frozen treats, or extra-hot beverages. Make yourself comfortable by avoiding chewing with your compromised tooth, and postponing foods that could trigger sensitivity.

  • Make a dental appointment as soon as you can

Don’t put off treatment, even if the filling was a small one, and even if the tooth is causing you no discomfort.

There might be further damage or decay that should be treated. A tooth that required a large filling is often more fragile than an intact tooth, and might need to be fitted with a crown in order to protect it. A missing filling might reveal deep decay which has exposed the pulp of the tooth to infection or damage, and a root canal might be necessary. A seriously damaged tooth might require extraction. Delaying treatment could result in a more complex restoration.

See us as soon as you discover a problem with your filling, and we will make sure not only that your tooth is treated appropriately, but that the reason for the lost filling is discovered. While no filling lasts forever, if the cause of your lost filling is tooth grinding or decay, it’s important to be proactive to prevent further problems.

Losing a filling? It really doesn’t happen very often. But that’s not a lot of comfort if you do happen to lose or break a filling. If you’re at a loss for what to do next, contact our Middleton, WI office. You’ll find yourself smiling again in no time!

What stinks?

November 17th, 2021

Spilling soda on someone’s white shirt, telling an off-color joke at an inappropriate time, or sneezing chewed food all over the dinner table all pale in comparison to the socially unacceptable, embarrassing blunder of having ... bad breath!

Five Possible Causes of Halitosis

  • Poor oral hygiene practices. Failing to brush your teeth encourages anaerobic bacteria growth, which involves a type of bacteria that emits volatile sulfur compounds (gases) responsible for smelly breath.
  • If you have tonsils, you may have tonsil stones embedded in the fissures of your tonsils. Tonsil stones are hard, tiny pieces of bacteria, dead oral tissue, and mucus that form inside tonsil crevices. When accidentally chewed, they release extremely foul odors that others can smell and you can actually taste.
  • You have a chronically dry mouth due to medications, allergies, or persistent sinus conditions that force you to breathe through your mouth. Anaerobic bacteria thrive in dry, stagnant environments where oxygen content is minimal. Consequently, a dry mouth tends to lead to smelly breath.
  • You have acid indigestion or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). If you constantly belch stomach gases, this not only causes your breath to smell fetid but it can lead to enamel erosion and tooth decay.
  • You have one or more oral diseases: gingivitis, periodontitis, or infections in the gums known as abscesses.

Improving oral hygiene practices may eliminate bad breath, but if brushing, flossing, and rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash twice a day doesn’t stop people from backing away from you when you open your mouth, it’s time to visit hartstone dental.

What is hand-foot-and-mouth disease?

November 10th, 2021

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease, or HFMD, is a type of contagious viral illness that causes a rash in the mouth and on the hands and feet of infants and young children, and, while rare, adults. Characterized by sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet, hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most commonly caused by a coxsackievirus, a bacterium that lives in the human digestive tract. HFMD can spread from person to person, typically via unwashed hands.

What are the symptoms of HFMD?

Symptoms of HFMD usually begin with a fever, sore throat, poor appetite, or general malaise. A couple of days after the fever starts, kids may develop painful sores in the mouth. A skin rash characterized by red spots may also develop, usually on the palms of your child’s hands and soles of their feet. It’s important to note some children may only experience a rash while others may only have mouth sores.

Is HFMD serious? Should we be concerned?

Usually not. Nearly all children infected recover anywhere between seven to ten days without medical treatment. Rarely, however, a child can develop viral meningitis and may need to be hospitalized. Other rare complications of HFMD can include encephalitis (brain inflammation), which can be fatal.

How can my child prevent HFMD?

There is no known vaccine to defend your child against HFMD. However, the risk of your child contracting the disease can be reduced by:

  • Making sure your child washes his or her hands often
  • Thoroughly cleaning objects and surfaces (these include doorknobs and toys)
  • Making sure your child avoids close contact with those who are infected

To learn more about hand-foot-and-mouth disease or to schedule an appointment for your child, please give us a call at our Middleton, WI office!

Good Dental Hygiene Impacts Overall General Health

October 27th, 2021

There are many ways in which your oral health has an impact on your overall general health. There are naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth. Some of those bacteria, including strep and staph, are harmful, while other bacteria are essential for the balance of intestinal flora. The healthier your mouth is, the less likely it is the harmful bacteria will travel to other parts of your body to infect it and make you sick. There is much more to good dental hygiene than brushing and flossing.

Historical Methods of Maintaining Oral Health

Ancient civilizations relied on natural remedies for maintaining oral health. Around 250 AD, the Kemetic Egyptians used myrrh and other herbs as antiseptics for treating infected gums. Two centuries later, the Nubians, who lived in the Nile River valley, drank beer to ease the pain of infected teeth. That probably sounds crazy, but their beer was effective because they used grains that were contaminated with the same bacteria that produce the antibiotic tetracycline.

Today's Biggest Dental Hygiene Challenge

In the past, tooth decay was more of an issue because there was no routine dental care, and problems that are routinely treated today went untreated. Thanks to fluoridated water, and toothpastes containing fluoride, tooth decay is far less problematic than it was a century or more ago. Gum disease has replaced tooth decay as the most serious dental problem facing people today. According to the American Dental Association, a staggering 80 percent of Americans over age 65 suffer from some form of periodontal disease.

Ironically, if that infection attacked any other part of your body, especially in a place where it was clearly visible, you would head to your doctor for treatment immediately. People tend to ignore gum tenderness and bleeding. When the tenderness and bleeding aren't treated, the inflammation can turn into periodontitis. The longer you allow the inflammation to go untreated, the greater the likelihood that it will affect other body parts. Make sure to visit Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk at hartstone dental regularly to be proactive about dental health!

Researchers are now discovering that untreated inflammation in the mouth acts as a driving force for multiple chronic illnesses, including clogged arteries, heart attacks, arthritis, and even cancer. That inflammation is one of many hypotheses that may explain how chronic infections can trigger systemic diseases, and even intensify existing ones. Bacterial overgrowth in the inflamed gum tissue can enter the bloodstream through the food you eat, and from daily brushing.

Caring for your mouth at home is just as important as visiting our office for exams!

Whitening an Artificial Tooth

October 20th, 2021

It’s a bit of a contradiction: you are justifiably proud of your beautiful dental work, but you don’t want it to be obvious when you smile. Dental prosthetics such as veneers and crowns should blend perfectly with your natural teeth. If you have noticed your veneers are a different shade than your other teeth, or have a crown that is visibly darker than the teeth surrounding it, you are probably wondering if there is any way to lighten and whiten an artificial tooth surface. There is no one right answer, but let’s examine a few common scenarios to find the best solution for you.

If You Haven’t Started Your Dental Work and Want a Whiter Smile

If you are planning on getting a veneer or a crown, it’s best to take advantage of teeth whitening before you have the work done. Choosing a shade of bright white for your veneers and then trying to whiten your natural teeth to match it afterward is almost impossible. It’s a good idea to talk to us about whitening beforehand, and, if this is the best way to achieve the look you want, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can match the color of your new prosthetic to your newly whitened smile. The goal is to make your new veneer or crown a perfect match to your natural teeth.

If You Have Existing Veneers, Crowns, or Other Artificial Surfaces

Porcelain veneers cannot be whitened, but the good news here is that they don’t stain the way natural teeth do. Unlike our teeth, porcelain is non-porous, so it is very difficult for typical culprits such as coffee, tea, or red wine to have as much effect. Any surface stains that appear can usually be gently removed with a professional cleaning and polishing, where we will take care not to scratch the delicate surface of the veneer. Porcelain crowns and implants, like veneers, can be brightened with a professional surface cleaning, but their original color cannot be changed.

Composite veneers and composites used in dental bonding are more porous and therefore more likely to stain. They are also immune to whitening, but might respond somewhat to a careful professional polishing at our Middleton, WI office.

Finally, if the color of your existing dental prosthetics is a concern, replacement is an option we can consider together.

Whether you have existing veneers and crowns or are planning future dental work, please talk with us about achieving a seamless blend of old and new for a beautiful, natural smile. It’s a bit of a contradiction: the best work is the work no one notices!

Don’t Let Craze Lines Faze You

October 13th, 2021

You’re getting ready for a night out, or you’re checking to make sure you removed every bit of spinach after eating, or you’re practicing your best selfie smile . . . and suddenly, you see something alarming in the mirror—tiny cracks in your tooth enamel! Is this a dental emergency?

Almost always, the answer will be no.  Cracks like this are most likely “craze lines,” and craze lines are not serious cracks in your teeth. These diminutive flaws are shallow vertical cracks in the enamel which don’t go all the way through the tooth and don’t affect the tooth’s structural integrity. Like the crazing on a piece of glazed pottery, these tiny cracks are superficial, and the only reason for concern is cosmetic.

  • Cause for Crazing?

Time and normal wear on our enamel are the most common culprits. Years of biting and chewing are stressful.

But you can help prevent additional craze lines by avoiding bad habits which can put external stress on your teeth: nail biting, knocking on teeth with oral jewelry, crunching down on ice cubes, using your teeth to open bottle caps—in fact, using teeth for anything other than chewing food.

Grinding your teeth is also hard on your enamel. If you suffer with bruxism (the medical term for tooth grinding), ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk about a mouthguard or night guard. Eliminating the extra stress of unconscious grinding and clenching reduces the chances of craze lines. Even better, getting treated for bruxism can reduce the risk of serious pain and damage to your teeth and jaws.

  • Staining Can Make Craze Lines More Visible

Craze lines are often invisible unless the light is just right. However, you can make craze lines more noticeable if you drink coffee, tea, red wine, or dark sodas regularly. And if you need another reason to give up tobacco products, smoking, chewing, or any other use of tobacco can also darken craze lines.

Stains in craze lines don’t usually respond to brushing. You might be able to lighten stains with home or professional whitening. Ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk for the options which are best for your staining.

  • Repairing Craze Lines

Don’t let tiny flaws keep you from smiling! If you are unhappy with the appearance of your enamel, talk to us about possible treatments, including bonding and porcelain veneers.

  • When It’s More Than a Craze Line

While a craze line is generally nothing to be concerned about, a deep line, or a line which is getting bigger, might suggest a crack in the tooth. Cracks need to be assessed and treated to avoid damage not only to the exterior of the tooth, but to the pulp of the interior as well.

How can you tell the difference? Craze lines are not painful; a cracked tooth might be. Sensitivity to hot and cold foods, painful chewing, gums swollen around a tooth, pain when you bite down, a crack that is getting larger—any of these symptoms could be a sign that you have a cracked tooth. These are reasons to visit our Middleton, WI dental office ASAP.

Craze lines might be medically harmless, but if they impact your confidence, that’s a problem. Our team can help you change habits that are causing craze lines, remove staining, or repair cosmetic damage. If you’re not crazy about those craze lines, ask us for solutions that will bring back your confidant smile.

How to Handle a Dental Emergency

October 6th, 2021

Whether it’s a broken tooth or injured gums, a dental emergency can interfere with eating, speaking, or other day-to-day activities. According to the American Dental Association , you can sometimes prevent dental emergencies like these by avoiding the use of your teeth as tools or by giving up hard foods and candies.

Even if you take excellent care of your mouth, however, unexpected dental problems can still arise. Our team at hartstone dental is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assess and resolve your individual situation. When an emergency arises, you should immediately make an appointment with our office so we can put you at ease, give you the best possible care, and help you return quickly to your regular routine.

Damaged Teeth

For tooth damage in particular, don’t hesitate to call and schedule an emergency dental appointment. You should come in as soon as possible. However, if you have some time before your appointment there are a few things you can do to avoid further injury. If you break your tooth, clean the area well by rinsing it with warm water. To ease any discomfort, put a cold compress against your skin near the area with the affected tooth.

A dislodged tooth should be handled carefully in order to keep it in the best possible condition. Gently rinse off the tooth without scrubbing it and try to place it back into the socket of your gums. If it won’t stay in your mouth, put the tooth in a container of milk and bring it along to your dental appointment.

Injured Soft Tissues

For other problems, such as bleeding gums or an injured tongue, cheek, or lip, the Cleveland Clinic recommends gently rinsing your mouth with salt water and applying pressure to the site with a moist strip of gauze or a tea bag. If you’re also experiencing some discomfort, you can put a cold compress on your cheek near the area of the bleeding. If the bleeding continues, don’t hesitate to contact our office so you can receive further help.

A dental emergency may catch you off guard, but Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can provide fast, pain-free treatment. Follow the advice above and set up an appointment with us as soon as possible so you can put your teeth and mouth on the road to recovery.

Teeth, Bones—What’s the Difference?

September 22nd, 2021

They’re often mentioned together, and that’s understandable. After all, they’re the strongest parts of the body, they’re made of many of the same elements, they both require a diet rich in vitamins and minerals to stay healthy, a pirate flag wouldn’t be the same without them–so, what makes teeth and bones different? Glad you asked!

It’s Elementary

Teeth and bones are so strong because of their mineral composition. They have the highest concentration of calcium and phosphorus in the body, and these minerals combine to create sturdy structures which support our bodies, protect our organs, and help break down and digest our food. And they work well together—healthy teeth maintain jawbone density, and healthy jaws hold our teeth firmly in place.

But there are important differences in the anatomy of teeth and bones as well. Bones contain living cells, blood vessels, and nerves. They grow larger as we grow. As we age, old bone tissue breaks down and is constantly replaced with new bone tissue. This process enables our bones to stay strong throughout our lives. And bones heal.

When you break a bone, your body begins working right away to protect and heal the damaged area. Blood cells help with clotting around the break. After a few days, collagen proteins work to replace the clotted cells and form a soft callus. Within weeks, calcium phosphate deposits strengthen the collagen framework. Over time, the bone hardens and reshapes.

And while tooth enamel is the hardest substance in our bodies—harder even than bone—it is not indestructible. Our enamel is basically composed of minerals rather than living tissue, so it can’t regenerate. The enamel covering our teeth doesn’t replace cells as they age, and it can’t create new tooth cells if a tooth is injured through damage or decay. This means that a cracked or broken tooth can’t knit itself together, and enamel lost to decay won’t grow back.

Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can restore your smile with fillings, or crowns, or even implants if necessary, but preventing injury to your teeth is always best.

Protecting Teeth and Bones

You can make sure your teeth and bones are their safest and strongest by being proactive.

External bone injuries can be avoided with the use of proper safety equipment. Helmets, padding, work boots—if your work or play recommends protective gear, use it! Fortunately, there’s also protective gear for teeth.

  • Helmets

Helmets not only protect against brain injury and concussion, they are often designed to protect the face, mouth, and jaw as well.

  • Mouthguards

Mouthguards protect the teeth, lips, tongue, and jaw from damages caused by physical contact and falls. They’re available over-the-counter, or ask Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk to fabricate a custom guard for the most comfortable and secure fit. A custom guard is an excellent option for people with braces, bridgework, or other dental appliances.

  • Night Guards

Grinding and clenching the teeth at night can lead to loose and cracked teeth, headaches, jaw pain, and other unhappy consequences. Protect your teeth from the damage caused by bruxism (tooth grinding) by wearing a night guard.

Finally, one big difference between tooth and bone design: bones are safely hidden away inside the body, while our teeth are exposed to harmful plaque, bacteria, sugars, and acidic foods every day. Give your teeth the preventive care they deserve with twice-daily brushing, flossing, and regular visits to our Middleton, WI office. After all, your beautiful, healthy smile was never designed to be hidden!

Flossing Fixes

September 15th, 2021

A length of floss plus your teeth is about as low-tech as it gets. But, as with so many other “simple” skills, it helps to learn just the right technique to avoid common mistakes and to make your flossing as effective as it can possibly be.

  • Choose the Right Floss for You

You’re getting ready to go out, and your floss keeps getting stuck, shredding, or snagging. You might try waxed flosses or flosses treated to glide easily through the teeth if this is a difficulty. (But do call us if it happens a lot—it could be a problem with a restoration, or a cavity, or some other condition we should address.) If you have the opposite problem, too wide a space between teeth for effective flossing, there are dental tape flosses that work with wider spacings. Braces? There are even specially designed dental flosses that thread between brackets and wires to access hard-to-reach plaque and food particles. If you’re unsure which product will work best for you, we have recommendations.

  • Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

Did you know dental floss is a handy kitchen tool? You can use (unflavored) floss to cut cakes into even layers, slice cheese, or divide a log of cookie dough into perfect rounds. Just pull the floss taut and saw away. But let’s not use this technique on delicate gum tissue! Gums can be injured by a vigorous, sawing motion. Instead, gently guide the floss between the teeth to the gums, and, when you reach the gum line, gently ease the floss up and down the tooth surface. But do remember, sometimes the gums are sore and sensitive because of too little flossing, not too much. Proper cleaning will help keep your gums both healthy and pain-free.

  • Technique Counts!

We often use floss to remove food particles from between the teeth, which provides instant dental gratification. But you are flossing for the long term as well. Proper flossing removes the plaque that leads to cavities from places your brush just can’t reach. Make sure you floss between each tooth, and don’t forget the back of those teeth on the end. The next time you visit our Middleton, WI office for a cleaning, let us demonstrate the most effective techniques for gently removing plaque from beneath the gum area and on the tooth’s surface.

  • It’s All in the Timing

How much time should you spend flossing? That answer will depend on your individual needs. For some people, thorough and careful flossing once a day will be sufficient. For others, flossing more often might be advisable. We can help you decide how often and how long to floss.

It might take some time and practice to learn to floss effectively, but you will find your technique gets better and your flossing is accomplished more quickly once you have the basics down. If Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can offer any suggestions, don’t hesitate to ask!

Treatment Options for TMD

September 8th, 2021

Temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) refers to a diverse range of disorders that relate to muscular function in the jaw and face — the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). That could mean difficulty opening your mouth, pain in the jaw or face, or any sort of problem with the jaw joint.

TMD can be difficult to diagnose because of the varied causes. Whatever the case, an accurate diagnosis from Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk helps make treatment as successful as possible.

Most often, jaw problems will resolve themselves within several weeks or months. Surgeries like arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, and open-joint surgery should be a last resort. More conservative and reversible treatments should come first and are in fact the most critical step in the treatment of TMD.

Less invasive treatments like acupuncture and splints can be helpful, but that will depend on your particular case. It’s worth your while to speak with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk at our Middleton, WI office to learn about solutions that could work for you.

A combination of treatments will most often produce the greatest relief for TMJ patients. It’s a good idea to avoid activities that overuse the jaws, such as chewing gum or clenching your jaws.

You can be proactive in finding relief for TMD by trying the following remedies at home:

  • Eat soft food: When you eat soft and/or blended food, your jaw gets an opportunity to rest. Avoid chewy and crunchy food, and food that requires you to open your mouth wide, like apples or corn on the cob.
  • Apply moist heat: A hot water bottle wrapped in a moist towel can help reduce symptoms.
  • Apply ice: Applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or towel for no longer than 15 minutes may also reduce pain and promote healing.
  • Do jaw exercises: A physical therapist can help identify the exercises that will work for you. Jaw exercises have been shown to be an effective treatment method that can be performed at home.
  • Relaxation: Actively try to relax the muscles of the face and lips, and let your teeth come apart. Many find meditation, yoga, and slow, deep breathing to be helpful for reducing stress and tension.
  • Avoid wide yawns: Keep your fist under your jaw when you feel a yawn coming on, to keep your jaw from opening too widely.

Back to School? Remember Your Dental Homework!

September 1st, 2021

It’s a busy time of year. Book lists! Supplies! New clothes! (How did they outgrow those shoes already?) And while you’re preparing your family’s list of back-to-school necessities, here are a few essential reminders to help your child begin the school year with a healthy smile.

  • Review

It never hurts to review the basics before the start of the school year, and that holds true for dental care as well! Make sure your child is brushing two minutes twice a day, and using floss or another interdental tool to clean between the teeth. If his toothbrush has been in use since the end of the last school year, it’s probably time to replace it. Bristles are at their best for about three months—after that, they become frayed and worn, and can’t remove plaque as effectively.

  • School Supplies for Braces Wearers

If your child is going to school with braces for the first time, send her off with the tools she needs. A travel-sized toothbrush and tube of toothpaste are perfect for a quick brushing after lunch, while dental floss and a threader or dental picks will take care of any after-lunch particles lurking in brackets and wires. Orthodontic wax is a great product to have on hand if a wire or bracket is causing irritation. If your child uses clear aligners or a retainer, make sure a protective case is always close by, ready to use every time the appliance is removed. And it’s a good idea to include the number of your dentist and orthodontist in her contacts in case of emergency.

  • Exams

If your school requires a dental exam before the start of classes, be sure to make your appointment at our Middleton, WI office now! Regular checkups with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk are vital for preventing small problems from becoming bigger ones, and a professional cleaning will remove the plaque even careful brushing can miss.

A positive, confident start can set the tone for the academic year, so your homework might include monitoring summer reading, providing required supplies, and making sure your child is well-rested and ready to go. You can also help your child to a positive, confident start by monitoring brushing habits, providing the necessary tools for appliance-wearers, and making sure your child is up-to-date with dental exams and cleanings. Because entering the classroom with a beaming, healthy smile—that’s an A+ way to begin the school year!

Is a Crown Necessary for My Child’s Baby Tooth?

August 25th, 2021

Part of the charm of your child’s smile is those delicate, diminutive baby teeth. We enjoy those smiles while we can, because soon enough, primary teeth make way for the adult teeth that will last your child a lifetime. So you might be surprised if Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team recommend a crown for your child’s baby tooth. Is this procedure necessary when the tooth is going to fall out eventually anyway?

Yes, it really is. If a primary tooth is lost before its normal lifespan, several problems can arise.

  • Biting and chewing—a full set of baby teeth is best for proper chewing and digestion. And chewing also helps develop face and jaw muscles.
  • Speech development—primary teeth help guide speech production and pronunciation.
  • Spacing—a baby tooth serves as a place holder for the adult tooth waiting to replace it. If a primary tooth is lost too early, teeth may drift from their correct location and cause overcrowding or misalignment.

When is a Crown Necessary?

The enamel in a baby tooth is thinner than the enamel found in adult teeth, and a cavity can spread quickly throughout a tooth. Within a short period, the tooth’s structure might be too weak for a regular filling. Sometimes the pulp inside the tooth becomes injured or infected and an endodontic treatment is necessary to remove pulp tissue from inside the tooth. The interior will be filled, but the delicate enamel surrounding it will be fragile. Or an accident can leave a tooth fractured or broken, but still vital.

In each of these cases, a crown will protect the tooth from further decay or damage, and will allow the tooth to function normally until an adult tooth is ready to replace it.

What Types of Crowns are Available?

By far the most common choice for a primary tooth is a stainless steel crown. These crowns are prefabricated and can be fitted snugly to your child’s individual tooth. They are easy to place, less expensive than other crown alternatives, and will last until the tooth is ready to fall out in its proper time. If your child suffers from a metal allergy, or a more natural looking crown is necessary, talk to us about other possible options during your appointment at our Middleton, WI office.

Sure, preserving a baby tooth that was never designed to be permanent seems contradictory. But saving a tooth that helps your child develop proper eating habits, speech production, and correct adult tooth alignment? Those are benefits that will last a lifetime.

Is a Crown Necessary for My Child’s Baby Tooth?

August 25th, 2021

Part of the charm of your child’s smile is those delicate, diminutive baby teeth. We enjoy those smiles while we can, because soon enough, primary teeth make way for the adult teeth that will last your child a lifetime. So you might be surprised if Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk and our team recommend a crown for your child’s baby tooth. Is this procedure necessary when the tooth is going to fall out eventually anyway?

Yes, it really is. If a primary tooth is lost before its normal lifespan, several problems can arise.

  • Biting and chewing—a full set of baby teeth is best for proper chewing and digestion. And chewing also helps develop face and jaw muscles.
  • Speech development—primary teeth help guide speech production and pronunciation.
  • Spacing—a baby tooth serves as a place holder for the adult tooth waiting to replace it. If a primary tooth is lost too early, teeth may drift from their correct location and cause overcrowding or misalignment.

When is a Crown Necessary?

The enamel in a baby tooth is thinner than the enamel found in adult teeth, and a cavity can spread quickly throughout a tooth. Within a short period, the tooth’s structure might be too weak for a regular filling. Sometimes the pulp inside the tooth becomes injured or infected and an endodontic treatment is necessary to remove pulp tissue from inside the tooth. The interior will be filled, but the delicate enamel surrounding it will be fragile. Or an accident can leave a tooth fractured or broken, but still vital.

In each of these cases, a crown will protect the tooth from further decay or damage, and will allow the tooth to function normally until an adult tooth is ready to replace it.

What Types of Crowns are Available?

By far the most common choice for a primary tooth is a stainless steel crown. These crowns are prefabricated and can be fitted snugly to your child’s individual tooth. They are easy to place, less expensive than other crown alternatives, and will last until the tooth is ready to fall out in its proper time. If your child suffers from a metal allergy, or a more natural looking crown is necessary, talk to us about other possible options during your appointment at our Middleton, WI office.

Sure, preserving a baby tooth that was never designed to be permanent seems contradictory. But saving a tooth that helps your child develop proper eating habits, speech production, and correct adult tooth alignment? Those are benefits that will last a lifetime.

Top Ten Ways to Improve Heart Health

August 18th, 2021

The human heart truly appreciates it when we eat healthy foods, don’t smoke, and exercise regularly. But there’s something else that can improve your heart’s longevity and you may not know about: keeping your teeth and gums in tip-top shape.

Bacteria responsible for periodontal disease have been found in the heart area of subjects who suffer from artery inflammation, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Physicians and dentists, like Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk, think that it is not difficult for oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream through diseased, bleeding gums, and abscesses that reach from the gums into veins and capillaries that carry blood to and from the heart.

In addition to practicing good oral hygiene and visiting hartstone dental every six months, here are ten other ways you can make your heart love you for the rest of your life:

  1. Avoid eating foods that contain saturated fat (fatty meats, processed meats, pastries, butter).
  2. Craving a crunchy snack? Grab a handful of tree nuts: pecans, almonds, walnuts. They’re rich in monounsaturated fats (the “good” kind of fat) as well as vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium.
  3. Eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast nourishes your heart with a soluble fiber called beta-glucan that can reduce cholesterol and help prevent atherosclerosis.
  4. Think “fish” the next time you shop for groceries, especially sardines, salmon, fresh tuna, and mackerel. These fish provide omega-3 fatty acids that lower triglycerides and blood pressure, and may help prevent blood clots from forming.
  5. Opt for whole grains over processed white breads and cereals.
  6. Put that remote control (or computer mouse) down right now and get moving! Walk, swim, ride a bike, plant flowers; your heart likes to pump, so make it pump.
  7. Refresh your brain and improve your heart health with at least eight hours of sleep every night.
  8. De-stress your life as much as possible: relax, stay optimistic, and don’t sweat the petty stuff!
  9. Watch your weight and get regular health examinations, especially if you have a family history of heart disease.
  10. And don’t forget to brush, floss, and rinse twice a day!

Three Signs You May Have Gingivitis

August 11th, 2021

Gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, is an early stage of gum disease. If you have gingivitis, it’s important to visit Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk to get proper treatment, since home care isn’t enough to get rid of the plaque that leads to tartar and eventually to gum disease. Monitor yourself to see if you have these signs of gingivitis, and get help as soon as you can to prevent the progression to periodontitis. Your vigilance could save your teeth.

1. You have one or more risk factors.

Having risk factors for gingivitis doesn’t mean that you have or will get the disease, but it does mean that you should be especially watchful. You’re more likely to get gum disease if you have the following risk factors:

  • You are a smoker.
  • You are a female going through puberty, pregnancy, or menopause.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You have a compromised immune system, as is the case if you have HIV/AIDS.
  • You have a family history of gum disease.

2. You have inflammation in your gums.

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums, and that is a tell-tale sign of the condition. Gingivitis or periodontitis can involve a bacterial infection, and inflammation is your body’s response to an injury or infection. The four standard signs of inflammation are pain, redness, swelling, and a higher temperature than normal.

If you have inflammation around your teeth, your gum disease may have progressed to the more serious condition of periodontitis. Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk can evaluate your case using a scope, or small ruler. The ruler is used to measure the pockets around your teeth, with a depth of one to three millimeters being normal.

3. Your teeth seem to be moving around.

Loose teeth are a classic sign of periodontitis. You may also have them if you have gingivitis. They can occur when your gum line recedes, or as the result of having soft bone in your jaw.

You might also notice other signs of your teeth moving around. For example, they may seem to be oddly spaced, or they could be separating from each other. You might also notice that your partial dentures don’t fit properly anymore, even if they’re not that old.

Gingivitis is a very treatable condition, but you need the help of Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk to keep it in check. Contact our Middleton, WI office to schedule an exam today!

Scheduling Dental Procedures When You’re Pregnant

August 4th, 2021

Pregnancy leads to so many changes in your body, so it’s no surprise that your teeth and gums are affected as well! Dental care is very important during these months, so let’s look at some of the concerns you might have about treatments and procedures.

  • Regular Exams and Cleaning

Yes and yes! Let us know you are pregnant when you make your appointment. Preventive care is especially important during pregnancy for keeping your gums healthy.

  • Periodontal Care

Swollen and tender gums are often one of the first signs of pregnancy. Hormonal changes can make your gums more vulnerable to irritation and infection. Early gum disease, called gingivitis, should be treated promptly to avoid a more serious condition called periodontitis. This form of gum disease can actually cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, leading to pockets where infection can develop. Talk to us about scheduling extra cleanings, if needed, to avoid the plaque build-up that leads to gum disease.

  • Regular Dental Work

If you need a cavity filled or a crown placed, talk to us about scheduling. It is important to keep your teeth healthy to avoid infection or more serious dental problems. If you do need restorative work, procedures are usually best treated during the second trimester, where morning sickness is less of a problem and reclining comfortably in the dental chair is easier than it would be in your third trimester.

  • Emergency Work

If there is a dental emergency, call us immediately. You shouldn’t put off emergency work, as the complications of pain and infection can be harmful to you and your baby.

  • Elective Treatments

If you are thinking about whitening your teeth or having other cosmetic dental work done, waiting until after your baby is born is usually recommended.

  • X-rays

Most studies suggest that dental X-rays, because they are so limited in focus, are probably safe during pregnancy. But since there is no definitive answer at this time, it’s recommended to wait until after your baby is born for elective X-rays. In case of a dental emergency, however, an X-ray might be a necessity. If you are worried, talk to us about the shielding we use during X-rays, as well as scientific agreement about the safety of dental X-rays.

Let Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk know about your pregnancy, and we will work with you to schedule exams or treatments at our Middleton, WI office so that your dental experience is both comfortable and safe. If you have any concerns, call us immediately. We know your pregnancy brings many significant changes to your life, but our concern for your health and well-being—that’s unchanging!

Road Trip!

July 28th, 2021

The bags are packed, the trunk is loaded, the route is programmed into your GPS, the playlist is set, and your destination awaits! Sometimes there’s just nothing more appealing than a road trip. So, to make your trip even more enjoyable, here are some dental tips to help keep you feeling clean and fresh over the long haul.

  • Fuel Up

If you’re bringing some road snacks, be sure to include a few that will help clean teeth and freshen breath. Packing a supply of bottled water helps you stay hydrated, washes away food particles, and eliminates the bad breath caused by dehydration. Carrots and apples are not only nutritious and tasty, they apply a bit of gentle scrubbing action to your enamel as you chew. Traditional travel favorites like granola bars, beef jerky, and chips tend to stick to the teeth and provide cavity-causing bacteria a leisurely feast, so enjoy them in moderation. (If you’re driving, save the snacks for a rest stop—not only is eating while driving prohibited in some areas, it’s a distraction you don’t need on the highway.)

  • Roadside Diners

The occasional sticky, sweet, or chewy indulgence is fine at home, but when you have hours in the car ahead of you, you might want to turn down the pecan pie, the giant pretzels, and the roadside sea salt caramels. Again, cavity-causing bacteria love sugars and simple carbs, and food that finds its way into tooth crevices finds its way onto their menu. And, it goes without saying, passing up garlic, onions, and spicy foods will help your mouth feel fresher longer—and make your travel companions happier.

  • Car Wash

Bring a travel-sized toothbrush and tube of toothpaste with you for a quick cleaning when you stop for a break. A ventilated case will keep your brush dry (bacteria like damp conditions) and away from questionable surfaces. Disposable mini-travel brushes are available that come with a bead of cleaner pre-loaded and ready to use—you don’t even need water for a cleaner mouth and fresher breath. Food particles do not make good travel buddies so don’t forget dental picks or floss. And if you can’t brush right away, try a rinse with water or chew a piece of sugarless gum. Sugar free gum can help stimulate saliva production, which is a good way to wash away food particles and neutralize acids in the mouth.

  • Roadside Repair

Even with the best preparation, accidents can happen. That’s why you have a spare tire and a lug wrench in your trunk. It pays to be prepared for a dental emergency on the road as well. There are dental travel kits available in stores and online, or create one for yourself. Along with your first aid kit, pack dental picks, antimicrobial wipes, sterile gauze, a mirror, and any other supplies you think might come in handy. If you wear braces or a retainer, be sure to include dental wax in case of an uncooperative wire, and a case to protect and keep track of your retainer. And it’s a good idea to keep our Middleton, WI office’s number on hand in case of emergency.

It’s a big country, and cruising the streets and highways is a wonderful way to explore it! But if you’re having any dental problems, be sure to see your dentist before taking off—after all your preparation, you don’t need a dental emergency to ruin your trip. Then, pack your bags, load your trunk, set your GPS, pick a playlist with something for everyone, and get ready to enjoy happy travels and healthy smiles!

Antibiotic Prophylaxis or Pre-Medication

July 21st, 2021

At hartstone dental, we know the human mouth contains a lot of bacteria. A bacterium can travel through your body with routine activities that are a normal part of daily living. You spread bacteria when you brush or floss your teeth, when you chew, and when you swallow.

For most people, bacteria don’t cause any problem. For some people, however, especially those who have chronic medical conditions, specific cardiac conditions, or whose immune systems are compromised, bacteria that spreads throughout the bloodstream can lead to much more serious bacterial infections.

The goal of pre-medication or antibiotic prophylaxis, Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk will tell you, is to prevent bacterial endocarditis, a serious infection of the endothelial heart surfaces or the heart valves. The condition is also called infective endocarditis. A small population of people with certain health problems has a high risk for contracting this potentially deadly bacterium.

The American Heart Association states that people at greatest risk for contracting bacterial or infective endocarditis are:

  • Patients who underwent cardiac valve surgery in the past
  • Those who have suffered past incidents of infective endocarditis
  • Patients who have mitral valve prolapse, resulting in or causing valve leakage
  • People who have had rheumatic fever or any degenerative cardiac condition that produces abnormalities in cardiac valves
  • Patients who suffer from certain congenital heart diseases

For these patients, any dental procedure may cause bleeding, and prophylactic antibiotic administration is recommended as a preventive measure.

Other patients who require prophylactic antibiotics

The American Association of Endodontists extends recommendations to patients who have undergone joint replacement surgery within the past two years, suffer from type 1 diabetes, or have immune deficiencies from diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or HIV; cancer patients whose immune systems are suppressed because of radiation or chemotherapy; people who have had organ transplants; and hemophiliacs.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry also includes people who suffer from sickle cell anemia, as well as patients who suffer from conditions that require chronic steroid therapy.

Typical endodontic procedures for which antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended include root canal therapy (when it involves going deeper than the root apex), surgical tooth extractions, and any other dental, endodontic, or periodontal procedure during which the doctor anticipates bleeding.

Although different medical societies and organizations offer these guidelines as a way of identifying patients for whom prophylactic pre-medication is essential prior to dental procedures, dentists will take each patient's medical history and personal risk factors into consideration. Some doctors may choose to administer antibiotics following a procedure, especially for patients who have previously suffered from oral infections either as a result of dental procedures or that necessitated oral surgery.

For more information about antibiotic prophylaxis, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Joel Hartjes and Dr. Jon Szewczyk, please give us a call at our convenient Middleton, WI office!

Carbs and Cavities

July 14th, 2021

The Good News

Carbohydrates are one of the body’s essential macronutrients (along with protein and fat). We use carbs to convert the food we eat into energy. How does this work? It’s a sophisticated process:

  • Carbs break down into sugars as we digest them
  • Sugars are absorbed into our bloodstream
  • The pancreas releases insulin when blood sugar levels rise
  • Insulin enables sugars to move from our blood to our cells
  • Cells throughout the body use this sugar for energy.

Without the necessary amount of carbohydrates, our bodies lose a vital source of energy. So, why are carbs a dental concern?

The Bad News

Some foods immediately begin breaking down into sugars in the mouth. Sugars are a favorite food source for the oral bacteria that form plaque. They use this sugar to produce the acids that weaken our enamel and lead to cavities. And the more often we eat these foods, and the longer they remain in the mouth, the more damage our enamel suffers.

But there’s a silver lining! We can be healthier physically and get a jump on preventing damage from sugary treats by becoming more discriminating in our choice of carbs and timing our indulgences wisely.

Good Carb/Bad Carb

Unprocessed, complex carbohydrates are found in foods like whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes, and vegetables. They contain the vitamins, minerals, and fibers which are lost when foods are refined. They are composed of larger, more complex molecules, and so they break down gradually for sustained energy.

Some simple carbohydrates break down into sugars more quickly, but also offer important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fruits and dairy products, for example, are an important part of a balanced diet.

But some carbs are not pulling their nutritional weight. Refined sugars (think candies, desserts, and sodas) and refined starches (white bread and rice, potato chips, pastries) break down quickly into sugar in the mouth. Worse, many of these foods tend to stick around. Sticky sugars and sticky starches cling to our enamel and hide between the teeth and in the crevices of our molars. Not only do these treats provide a sugary feast for acid-producing bacteria, they take their time doing it!

So, What to Do?

If you have a diet filled with healthy carbs (whole grains, fruit and vegetables, legumes, dairy products), you’re already on the right track. Kudos! But does this mean no desserts? Ever?

No! We all need a cookie sometimes. But you can decrease the chance of enamel damage by interrupting the carbs to cavities cycle.

First, if you are indulging in a rich dessert or some salty chips, better to do it as part of a meal. When you eat a full meal, your body produces more saliva. Saliva not only helps wash away food particles, it also helps neutralize the acids that damage enamel.

Secondly, if you eat simple carbs and sugars all day, your mouth and teeth are being treated to acids all day. If you are going for a snack, there are many great options that don’t use refined sugars and starches. Think fruit smoothies (with a big dollop of vegetables) or whole-grain crackers with hard cheese instead of a can of soda and a bag of pretzels.

Carbs aren’t really bad, they’re just misunderstood. Talk to Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes at your next checkup at our Middleton, WI office for ideas for the best carbohydrate choices for healthy metabolisms and healthy smiles!

Can sealants benefit you?

July 7th, 2021

Molars are difficult to reach when brushing your teeth because they’re full of crevices, caves, and pits that can provide the perfect environment for decay. Sealants are the perfect fix for this.

Sealants are a plastic-like protective solution that bond to the edge of the tooth. The treatment protects you against cavities and could save you from complicated dental issues in the future.

The process for placing sealants is painless and quick. First, Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes will clean the tooth with a baking soda spray. An acid etch is applied in order to “roughen up” the surface of the tooth and re-mineralize the area. The area is dried with an alcohol-based liquid and the sealant is placed on the grooves of the tooth. A special light then hardens the liquid into a plastic-like material.

Although sealants can last several years, they need to be examined semi-annually to check for breakage. Any cracks or breaks in your sealant can put your tooth at high risk for decay, and repair of sealants is a quick and painless task.

Children often receive sealants, but people of all ages can benefit from them. Adults who have especially deep canyons on their teeth are good candidates for sealants.

An investment in dental sealants can prevent tooth decay and complicated dental problems later on. It’s a no brainer! Call our Middleton, WI office today to speak with us about getting sealants on your teeth.

Common Emergency Care Visits: Toothaches and Abscesses

July 1st, 2021

You never know when a dental problem may arise. Unfortunately, they don’t necessarily occur during office hours. Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes can provide you with the proper information and treatment options to prevent the problem from becoming worse.

Abscess

An abscess is a bacterial infection, and will normally cause pain and swelling around the affected tooth and gum area. Though antibiotics are not always necessary, you should be seen by Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes as soon as possible. If left untreated, the infection may grow and cause more serious issues.

Toothache

Toothaches can have many causes. Sometimes it’s as simple as food lodged between your tooth and gums. Rinse your mouth with warm water and try flossing the area to dislodge the particle. If your gums begin to bleed, stop flossing.

Fractures or cavities can also cause toothaches as well as sensitivity to heat or cold. Please schedule an appointment to ensure a minor problem doesn’t develop into a serious one. You may require acetaminophen or another pain reliever before your visit.

If you can’t be treated right away, keep these tips in mind:

  • If you have fractured a tooth, rinse the area with warm water to keep the surfaces clean. Apply a cold compress to the outside of your facial area to reduce swelling.
  • A tooth that has been knocked out should be kept moist, in a clean container, until you can receive treatment.
  • Do not apply aspirin directly to a damaged tooth or gum area, because this can cause tissue irritation.
  • If you suspect your jaw has been broken, go to an emergency room immediately.
  • If you have bitten or damaged your lips or tongue, rinse your mouth well with warm water. If bleeding continues, seek other medical attention right away.

If you experience an emergency, please contact our Middleton, WI office and provide us with as much information as possible. This way, we can offer recommendations that will assist you until you’re able to arrive for an appointment.

Remember: procrastinating about getting treatment can turn a minor problem into a major one!

Tips for a Whiter Smile

June 23rd, 2021

Everyday life can take a toll on the whiteness of our teeth: Foods we love as well as soft drinks and coffee can stain them over time. Poor brushing and flossing can also leave behind tooth stains. Even injuries to teeth or gums can cause some yellowing, and in certain cases, medicines can contribute to discoloration.

So don’t get discouraged if you notice your smile has dimmed. You can definitely take action to restore the natural beauty of your teeth. Here are some of the best ways to whiten them:

  1. Drink through a straw or cut back on coffee and soft drinks to reduce risk of stains.
  2. Brush and floss every day.
  3. Try a whitening toothpaste or mouthwash.
  4. Visit our Middleton, WI office every six months for regular cleanings.

We also offer in-office professional whitening at our Middleton, WI office. These whitening products are much more effective than whiteners you can buy at the store and are completely safe. Since they’re stronger, application by a member of our team is essential to achieve the best results.

Still, some teeth can resist bleaching. If that’s the case, we can try several other techniques, such as deep bleaching that applies whitening agents over several visits, veneers and bonds that cover existing stains with a whiter, brighter surface, or laser whitening.

If a whitening session is something you’d like to pursue, be careful about whom you trust to perform the procedure. Avoid using “bleaching stations” in shopping malls or at fairs. These so-called whitening techniques can irritate your teeth and gums, and leave them highly sensitive to pain.

Also, operators of these whitening stands will make customers apply the bleach themselves, to avoid charges of practicing without a license. That should serve as a red flag and a caution to seek trained professionals like Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes, instead.

Recovering from Oral Surgery

June 9th, 2021

If you need oral surgery, Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team will use our expertise and training to ensure that you have the best possible surgical outcome. And we want to make sure you have the best possible outcome for your recovery as well. Here are a few of the most common aftercare suggestions for making your healing as comfortable and rapid as possible.

  • Reduce Swelling

Ice packs or cold compresses can reduce swelling. We’ll instruct you how to use them if needed, and when to call our Middleton, WI office if swelling persists.

  • Reduce Bleeding

Some amount of bleeding is normal after many types of oral surgery. We might give you gauze pads to apply to the area, with instructions on how much pressure to apply and how long to apply it. We will also let you know what to do if the bleeding continues longer than expected.

  • Reduce Pain or Discomfort

If you have some pain after surgery, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen might be all that you need. We can recommend those which are best for you. If you need a prescription for pain medication, be sure to take it as directed and always let us know in advance if you have any allergies or other reactions to medications.

  • Recovery-friendly Diet

Take it easy for the first few days after oral surgery. Liquids and soft foods are best for several days following surgery. We will let you know what type of diet is indicated and how long you should follow it depending on your particular procedure. We might, for example, recommend that you avoid alcohol and tobacco, spicy, crunchy, and chewy foods, and hot foods or beverages for several days or several weeks.

  • Take Antibiotics If Needed

If you have been prescribed an antibiotic, be sure to take it as directed. If you have any allergies to antibiotics, let us know in advance.

  • Protect the Wound

Do NOT use straws, smoke, or suck on foods. Avoid spitting.  Part of the healing process can involve the formation of a clot over the surgical site which protects the wound. If the clot is dislodged by suction or spitting, it can prolong your recovery time, or even lead to a potentially serious condition called “dry socket.”

  • Maintain Oral Hygiene

Depending on your surgery, we might recommend that you avoid rinsing your mouth for 24 hours, use salt water rinses when appropriate, and keep away from the surgical site when brushing. It’s important to keep your mouth clean, carefully and gently.

  • Take it Easy!

Rest the day of your surgery and keep your activities light in the days following.

These are general guidelines for recovery. If you have oral surgery scheduled, we will supply you with instructions for your specific procedure, and can tailor your aftercare to fit any individual needs. Our goal is to make sure that both your surgery and your recovery are as comfortable as possible.

Summer Treats for Healthy Teeth

June 2nd, 2021

School’s out for the summer, and it’s great to have the kids home. After all, they deserve a break after all their hard work. And you want to keep their vacation happy, relaxing, and fun—without letting them spend those summer months cooling off with sugary treats. What are some of your options for healthy hot weather snacks?

  • Naturally Sweet Treats

Keep a supply of fresh fruit handy for summer snacking. Crispy fruits like apples and Bosc pears actually provide a little scrubbing action for the teeth with their vitamins, and softer fruits such as bananas, berries, and, of course, watermelon, provide natural sweetness along with vitamins and minerals. Yogurt has valuable calcium for strong teeth and the vitamin D our bodies need to use that calcium. Add some fresh fruit to Greek yogurt for added flavor and sweetness—and even more vitamins.

  • Savory Snacks

Cheese is a calcium-rich snack, and crunchy carrots and celery help scrub teeth while providing vitamins and minerals. Do a little mixing and matching by adding some cream cheese to that celery for extra flavor. Serve up hummus and pita chips or cheese with whole grain crackers. They’re great nutritious alternatives to chips and dip.

  • Blender Blast

Summer’s the perfect time to use your culinary creativity and expand your child’s palate with vitamin-rich smoothies. Toss your favorite fruits in the blender with a little juice, non-fat yogurt, milk, or honey, whirl away, and you have a delicious, healthy snack. You can add a few leafy greens for even more nutritional value. There are many easy recipes online for creating homemade smoothies that will please any picky palate.

  • Freezer Favorites

Ice cream is a favorite summer treat, but it can also provide quite a sugar punch. There are many homemade frozen yogurt recipes available online which combine frozen fruit, yogurt, and honey for your own summer celebration, without adding large amounts of sugar. Or choose to stock your freezer shelves with low-sugar fruit pops, store bought or homemade.

  • On Tap

A soda or a sports drink are often the go-to hydration choices in the summer. You might already be careful about handing these drinks out because they can have such a high sugar content. But they can also create a very acidic environment in the mouth, which is harmful to tooth enamel. Water is the safest, healthiest option for hydrating in hot weather, and can even provide some of the fluoride which helps keep enamel strong.

Whatever is on your child’s summer menu, keep up with all those great dental habits you’ve already established. A limited number of snacks—even healthy ones—is best, and be sure to brush after snacking, or rinse with water if brushing’s not an option. And don’t forget to maintain your child’s normal schedule of brushing and flossing, and regular visits with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes at our Middleton, WI office.

Have a great summer, and send your kids back to school rested, relaxed, and with a healthy, happy smile. Then take a moment, relax, and sip that smoothie—after all, you deserve a break after all your hard work!

Good Dental Hygiene Gives You Better Overall Health

May 26th, 2021

What do you think of when you hear the term dental or oral hygiene? Brushing and flossing tend to come to mind, since that is what the terms imply.

What you might not know, however, is that good dental hygiene involves much more than just your mouth. That’s the tip of the iceberg … just a piece of the complex puzzle that is the human body.

Simply put, you cannot be fully healthy if you don’t have good oral health. Studies have shown that oral health and body health are closely linked and in fact almost impossible to define as separate phenomena.

Take gum disease, for example. It’s one of the most common dental infections, but it doesn’t just affect your gums. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, gum disease can be directly linked to more serious complications such as strokes and heart disease. Doesn’t that make you want to floss a little more often?

This goes the other way, too. Many oral events like sores, swollen gums, and dry mouth syndrome, which might seem fairly trivial and even harmless, may be signals of a much bigger problem: possibly leukemia, kidney disease, diabetes, or pancreatic cancer.

Now that you’ve been made aware of just how vital dental health is for your overall health (and vice versa), the best thing to do is what you’re probably already doing: making sure you brush and floss, as well as maintain a well-balanced diet. It’s also smart to keep away from cigarettes and tobacco, because both are known to contribute to periodontal disease.

In addition, be sure to keep getting your teeth cleaned every six months! If you’re due for a cleaning, give our Middleton, WI office a call to schedule an appointment at Hartjes Dental Associates.

Is periodontal disease genetic?

May 19th, 2021

One of the most enjoyable parts of looking at family pictures is finding resemblances. You have your father’s brown eyes and your grandmother’s curly hair. You’ve got your aunt’s basketball height and your cousin’s freckles. But some similarities might not be so appealing—could one of those be a family tendency toward gum disease?

Studies have shown that periodontal disease appears to have some kind of genetic component, especially for serious diseases and those that appear early in the patient’s life. Aggressive periodontitis, for example, a relatively uncommon disease which causes rapid bone loss around certain teeth, is often more common among members of the same family. Other studies suggest there might be a genetic link between our immune response and the development of chronic periodontitis. So far, however, the link between genetics and gum disease is still under investigation.

We do know that environmental factors are an important trigger for gum disease. Failure to brush and floss, smoking, diet, stress, medical conditions such as diabetes—all can influence the health of our gums. The best way to overcome these factors is your own proactive approach! Thorough brushing and flossing, regular checkups and cleanings, proper nutrition, and avoiding smoking are all time-tested ways to keep your gums and teeth healthy. If you have a medical condition, proper treatment and medication will also help protect your oral health.

During your examination with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes at our Middleton, WI office, please tell us about any family history of periodontal disease, your own gum care routine, and any habits or conditions which might influence your health. We can tailor treatment and offer suggestions for prevention based on a thorough knowledge of your medical history. We have many options available today for preventing and treating gum disease. Let’s make sure all your family albums are filled with beaming smiles—that’s the most appealing resemblance of all!

Make your child’s next visit to our office great!

May 12th, 2021

If you have been bringing your baby in for regular checkups since that first tooth arrived, you might expect that he or she is already familiar with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our staff. Often, though, months pass between visits, which is a very long time for a child. How can you make your preschooler’s return visit a happy one? We have some suggestions!

Before Your Visit

  • Prepare your child for her visit. Simple explanations are best for a young child. You might tell your daughter that a dentist is a doctor who helps keep her teeth strong and healthy. Let her know a bit about what will happen. Being told, “You will sit in a special chair,” or, “Can you open wide so we can count your teeth?” will give her some idea of what it’s like to visit our office.
  • There are many entertaining books for young children about visiting the dentist. Reading some of these to her for a few days before the appointment will let her know what to expect.
  • Use playtime to prepare. You might count your daughter’s teeth or let her “play dentist” and brush the teeth of her favorite doll or stuffed animal.

When You Arrive

  • Your attitude can be contagious! If you treat a visit to the dentist like any other outing, chances are your child will too. Your calm presence is exactly what your child needs.
  • You might want to come a bit early to let your son explore the office. Bring a favorite toy or book to keep him entertained if you need to. A favorite stuffed toy can be a comfort in an unfamiliar place.
  • If you are with your child during his checkup, follow our lead. Don’t be concerned if your child seems uncooperative at first or even throws a tantrum—we are used to working with children, and have techniques to make his experience as relaxed and as positive as we possibly can.

We Are Here to Help

We are your partners in your child’s dental care. Call our Middleton, WI office anytime for suggestions about making your child’s visit a comfortable, comforting experience. Our goal is to start your child confidently on the road to a lifetime of empowering dental visits and lasting dental health.

Mall Whitening: Why You Shouldn’t

May 5th, 2021

A shopping mall is a great place to get lots of errands done in one trip. Department stores, clothing boutiques, specialty shops? So many tempting options all in one place. But teeth whitening? Maybe not.

Dental office whitening provides you with the whitest possible teeth in the safest possible manner. Your teeth will be checked first for any conditions that might make whitening a bad idea, such as tooth decay, weakened enamel, or gum disease. Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes will make sure your gums and mouth are protected. A gel with a higher concentration of bleaching agents than those available over-the-counter will be applied, and your whitening progress will be monitored. You can also ask about having a custom-fitted tray made for at use at home with professional whitening gel.

What is different about mall bleaching?

  • No dental exam will be provided beforehand. If you have dental issues, the whitening process might cause further problems such as tooth sensitivity or gum inflammation.
  • The amount of peroxide in the bleaching agents can vary from place to place. You might end up with something equivalent to home whitening strips, or you might be exposed to solutions that should only be available in a dentist’s office.
  • Finally, in many areas, mall whitening is actually illegal because it is considered the practice of dentistry without a license. Mall kiosks skirt this problem by having customers insert the trays full of gel themselves—a practice that does not take the place of professional training, licensing, and regulation.

A mall kiosk is a convenient place to select a new phone. Or try an unusual hair care product. Or purchase the latest in fad toys. But when it comes to your dental health, it’s worth a special trip to our Middleton, WI office if you want the safest, most effective whitening.

The Hazards of Smokeless Tobacco

April 28th, 2021

Many smokers believe that chewing tobacco is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. This simply isn't the case! In fact, smokeless tobacco can cause serious health concerns.

Smokeless tobacco comes in many forms and goes by many names: dip, snuff, snus, or simply chewing tobacco. Use of these products usually involves sucking or chewing on shredded or loose tobacco leaves, sometimes flavored, for a prolonged period. There are even products that emulate a dissolvable candy-like consistency which are made of compressed tobacco powder.

What are risks and smokeless tobacco?

Whichever form a tobacco product takes, the dangers of using or consuming them is very real. According to a 2007 study by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, there are upwards of 28 cancer-causing chemicals in smokeless tobacco that are known to cause cancer. And these products are habit-forming just like any other tobacco product that contains nicotine. Using them will increase your risk for many serious diseases including but not limited to: cancer (especially oral and esophageal), gum and heart disease, cavities, and pre-cancerous mouth lesions.

At the end of the day, long-term use of smokeless tobacco can cause serious health issues. These products really take a toll on both your oral and overall health. They put a strain on your immune system and make it less capable of warding off infection and disease.

Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team strongly advise you to stop using smokeless tobacco—or any kind of tobacco product—and not to pick up the habit if you aren't. There is no safe level of tobacco use, smokeless or otherwise.

Need to quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco products?

You can and should always talk to your doctor, healthcare practitioner, or Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes for help quitting. But there are many other resources available today for those who'd like to quit. The National Cancer Institute offers information, support (local and online), and tools to help smokers and smokeless tobacco users quit. They offer live online chat with cessation counselors Monday through Friday and even have a smartphone application available to help people who are serious about quitting.

You can take a look at their website at smokefree.gov or call them toll-free at 1–877–44U–QUIT (1-877-448-7848). There is also help available from your state's quit line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

Make the best choice for your health and well-being; avoid the bad habit of tobacco products. If you have any questions about how tobacco related products affect your oral health and hygiene, please don't hesitate to ask one of our Middleton, WI staff members.

Plaque Attack? Let’s Fight Back!

April 21st, 2021

Plaque is a sticky subject! It sticks to the enamel of our teeth above and below the gum line, and it collects around fillings, braces, and other dental work. Plaque is one of the major causes of tooth decay and gum disease, and our teeth are under daily attack by this filmy menace.

What are the facts about plaque, and how can we fight back? Read on for some effective strategies!

What Is Plaque?

Plaque is a sticky film that builds up on our teeth, largely made up of millions of different types of oral bacteria. Plaque is a colorless biofilm at first, but as it collects, it takes on a white or yellow tint. If you haven’t brushed for a few days, that fuzziness you feel on your teeth is plaque build-up. Unless it’s removed, plaque hardens within a matter of days to become tartar.

  • Tip: You can remove plaque with careful brushing and flossing, but it takes a dental professional to remove tartar. Be proactive!

Why Does Plaque Cause Cavities?

Bacteria in plaque use our food as their food, especially sugars and carbs. They then transform these nutrients into acids, which attack our tooth enamel, weakening it and leaving it vulnerable to further erosion and eventual decay.

  • Tip: Cavities aren’t the only damage caused by accumulated plaque. Plaque also collects along and below the gum line. If tartar forms here, it irritates delicate gum tissue, leading to gingivitis and more serious gum disease. Make sure you don’t forget your gums when you brush and floss.

When Does Plaque Build Up?

The short answer? Plaque is always forming, because oral bacteria are a natural part of our biology. (In fact, there are even oral bacterial which are beneficial.) Plaque starts building up within minutes after eating, and during the night as we sleep.

That’s why we recommend brushing for two minutes at least twice a day, and flossing at least once a day. If you have braces or oral issues that make brushing more often advisable, ask us for suggestions for your best brushing schedule.

  • Tip: Just because plaque is unavoidable, that doesn’t mean we need to give the bacteria in plaque any additional encouragement. Every time you have a meal or a snack that’s heavy in carbs and sugars, you are providing more fuel for acid production. Cutting down on foods like sugary desserts and sodas is not only nutrition-healthy, it’s tooth-healthy!

Where Does Plaque Collect?

Plaque builds up all over tooth surfaces, at the gum line, and even below the gum line. It’s especially easy to miss in hard-to-reach places like the irregular surfaces of molars, between the teeth, behind our front teeth, and near the gum line.

  • Tip: One of the ways plaque avoids detection is its invisibility. Fortunately, if you’re having trouble brushing away all your plaque, there are plaque-disclosing toothpastes and chewable tablets available in the dental aisle which reveal the plaque hiding between, behind, or around your teeth by tinting it with a can’t-miss color. Just brush the color away, and you’ve brushed the plaque away as well.

How Do We Clean Away Plaque?

Use the Right Tools

Floss at least once a day. There are different materials, sizes, and coatings for floss, so you can find one that’s comfortable for you. Floss reaches those spots in between teeth and around the gum line that brushes miss.

Choose a soft toothbrush (soft bristles are better for your enamel) and change it every three to four months, or as soon as the bristles show wear. Make sure the head is the right size—too big, and it’s not only uncomfortable, but you won’t be able to reach all the surfaces you need to.

  • Tip: If you have trouble removing plaque with a manual toothbrush, consider an electric model. Several studies have shown a reduction in plaque with the use of an electric brush.

Use the Right Toothpaste

There are many toothpastes specifically formulated to fight plaque and tartar. And fluoride toothpastes not only fight cavities, they can strengthen your enamel.

  • Tip: Studies have shown that toothpastes with baking soda, in particular, are effective in reducing plaque. Ask us for a recommendation the next time you’re in for a cleaning.

Use the Right Technique

What not to do?  A forceful, horizontal sawing motion is awkward, hard on your enamel, and misses plaque and debris between the teeth. Technique is important—not for style points, but for cleaner teeth!

Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, especially at the gum line, to gently remove plaque from teeth and gums. Use short strokes or a circular motion to clean as much of the surface and between the teeth as possible. Brush the inside of your front teeth with careful vertical strokes—remember, that’s one place where plaque is easy to overlook. The same holds true for the tops of your molars, so thoroughly clean those uneven surfaces.

  • Tip: Do you floss before or after you brush? While both methods have benefits, many dentists and periodontists suggest flossing first. But really, if you are flossing daily, no matter what the order, you’re doing it right!

Who Can Help You Fight Plaque?

Even when you do your best at home, plaque can still be a sticky problem. That’s why we advise regular professional cleanings. We can not only remove any plaque that’s been overlooked, we can eliminate the tartar which can cause serious gum disease.  And, of course, we can give you all the information you need to keep your teeth their cleanest.

  • Final Tip: It’s important to schedule cleaning appointments at our Middleton, WI office on a regular basis to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Ask us for phone, text, or email reminders when it’s time for your next cleaning.

True, you’re fighting plaque every day, but you have all the tools you need to make sure your teeth and gums stay healthy. You’re winning the battle with plaque every time you eat a nutritious meal, every time you brush and floss, every time you see Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes for a checkup and a cleaning. With that kind of strategy, plaque doesn’t stand a chance. And your bright smile and healthy teeth and gums? That’s a victory worth celebrating!

When to Begin Dental Care for Your Baby

April 14th, 2021

Children’s oral health differs from the needs of adults in many ways. It’s vital for you to understand what your child needs to keep his or her teeth healthy. Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team are here to answer your questions to set you and your little one up for success.

In-home dental care should start as soon as your baby show signs of developing that first tooth. At around age one or two, bring your son or daughter to our Middleton, WI office. Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes will examine your child’s tooth development and gum health.

The initial appointment will focus on getting your youngster familiar with our office and comfortable with our staff. We will go over several general matters during that first visit:

  • Inspect for signs of decay or other tooth or gum problems
  • Check for gum disease or cavities
  • Examine your child’s bite and possible misalignment
  • Clean the teeth, and apply fluoride if your child is old enough
  • Talk with parents about proper oral health
  • Give you tips for brushing and flossing your little one’s teeth
  • Answer any questions you may have about caring for your son or daughter’s teeth

Once your child is old enough for the first dental visit, you should schedule regular cleanings every six months. Call our Middleton, WI location if you have any conflicts or questions.

This April, Let’s Celebrate National Facial Protection Month!

April 7th, 2021

Poor April. While other months celebrate romance, or giving thanks, or costumes and candy, April has—April Fool’s Day and a tax deadline. We might be forgiven for thinking these two dates seem more like warnings than celebrations.

So here’s a new topic for the April calendar: National Facial Protection Month! Take the opportunity this month to review your safety practices while you’re enjoying your favorite activities.

  • Mouthguards

If you have a mouthguard for sports or athletic activities, wear it! In any activity or sport where humans come into contact with solid objects (including other humans) tooth injury is possible. A mouthguard will help protect you from dental injuries caused by falls, physical contact, or other accidents that might happen in your active life. And it’s not just your teeth—mouthguards protect your lips, tongue, and jaw as well.

You can buy mouthguards in stock sizes or shape-to-fit options, or you can have a guard custom made especially for you at our Middleton, WI office. Custom mouthguards fit perfectly and are designed to make breathing and speaking easy and comfortable. And if you wear braces or have fixed dental work such as a bridge, a custom mouthguard can protect your smile and your appliances. Talk to Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes about mouthguards for some great advice on how to protect your teeth and mouth.

As long as we’re discussing facial protection, let’s look at some other ways to keep safe as you keep active.

  • Helmets

If there’s a helmet available for your sport, use it! Helmets are especially important for protecting athletes from brain injury and concussion, and they help protect the face and jaw as well.

  • Face Guards

If you’ve experienced a puck speeding toward you, or a defensive tackle hurtling your way, or a fast ball coming in at 90 miles an hour, you know the importance of wearing a face guard. These guards can help protect your eyes, face, teeth, and jaws. Many sports now recommend using face guards—it’s worth checking to see if your sport is one of them.

  • Eye Protection

And let’s not forget eye protection. Whether it’s safety glasses or a visor, protecting your eyes and the bones around them is extremely important. You can even get sports goggles or protective sports glasses with prescription lenses to keep you safe and seeing clearly.

We have the training and experience to help treat and restore injured teeth. But we will be the first to tell you, the very best treatment is prevention!

So here are a few suggestions for your calendar this month:

  • If you haven’t gotten a mouthguard yet, now’s the time. Tooth and mouth injuries occur in sports beyond hockey and football. If you play basketball, ski, skateboard, ride a bike—in fact, almost any sport where you can fall or make contact with a person or object—a mouthguard is a must.
  • If you need to replace an ill-fitting or damaged helmet and face guard, do it before your next game. And do replace a bike helmet if you’ve been in a crash—most likely it won’t be as protective, even if damage isn’t visible.
  • Talk to your eye doctor about protective eyewear if off-the-rack products don’t work for you.
  • If you are a parent or caregiver, make sure your child athlete has the proper facial protection—and uses it.
  • If you are a coach, make sure your athletes have the right protective gear—and wear it.
  • It’s also a great time to commit to using your protective gear every single time you’re active.

But, wait—these reminders are helpful and important, but weren’t we promised something to celebrate this April? Good catch! The great news is, using facial protection for sports and athletic activities gives you rewards you can celebrate all year: fewer injuries, fewer visits to the emergency room, and a beautiful, healthy, intact smile. Suit up!

Troubles with Cementum? Prevent ‘Em!

March 31st, 2021

Our teeth are a lot more complicated than they look. Beneath that shiny white surface is an entire system of different cell tissues working together to keep each tooth vital and healthy.

  • Enamel, the protective exterior of the crown (the visible part of the tooth), is the strongest substance in the body and the first line of defense against damage to our teeth.
  • Dentin, the hard tissue under the enamel and cementum, has microscopic tubules that connect to the pulp.
  • Pulp, the tissue at the center of the tooth, contains the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue that keep the tooth alive.
  • Cementum, composed of connective tissue which forms the protective exterior of the root, also attaches to fibers in the periodontal ligaments which hold the teeth securely in the jaw.

Because cementum is below the gum line, it’s generally safe from the cavity-causing conditions that our enamel is exposed to every day. But there are still potential hazards that we should be aware of.

  • Cementum Erosion

With a name like “cementum,” it’s logical to assume that this is the hardest tissue in the body. Actually, however, that distinction goes to our enamel. And if even our enamel can be damaged by bacteria and plaque, cementum doesn’t stand a chance!

How does cementum come in contact with cavity-causing bacteria? Gums often recede as a natural part of the aging process, leaving part of the root exposed. Gum disease, failure to brush and floss regularly, and heavy-handed brushing can lead to early gum recession. The newly exposed cementum is now exposed to the same conditions, which cause cavities in our enamel. But a root cavity can be trickier to treat and, because the cementum is not as strong as enamel, can progress more quickly. And if a cavity reaches the pulp, a root canal could be necessary.

But the erosion of cementum doesn’t have to result in a cavity to cause discomfort. When cementum is removed, the dentin beneath is exposed. Dentin, you’ll recall, contains tiny tubes that connect to the pulp of the tooth. The result? Conditions such as heat, cold, even an intake of air can cause tooth sensitivity as they stimulate the nerves in the pulp. If your hot coffee or ice cream cone is suddenly causing you pain, let us know. There are treatments, which can reduce tooth sensitivity.

  • Gum Disease (Periodontitis)

In more severe cases of gum disease, the gums pull away from the teeth leaving pockets, which harbor plaque and bacteria. Left untreated, these pockets can become home to infections, which attack and destroy bone structure and connective tissue. Caught early, a treatment called tooth scaling and planing can help. In this type of deep cleaning, your dentist or endodontist will remove plaque and tartar and then smooth the root surface to make it harder for bacteria and plaque to stick. If the gums have receded too far, a gum graft might be necessary to protect the exposed roots.

  • Trauma

The same traumas that can damage teeth above the gum line can result in injuries below it. Chewing on hard objects (ice, hard candies, wooden pencils), bruxism (tooth grinding), and sports injuries or accidents can cause cracks in the cementum. If your root is split or fractured, it might be possible to save your tooth, but sometimes extraction is the best option.

So how do you protect your cementum, hidden as it is under your gum line? The same way you protect the more visible parts of your teeth!

  • Keep to a healthy daily routine of brushing and flossing. This will help prevent gum disease and keep gum recession at bay. Using a soft brush and brushing firmly but gently will remove plaque while protecting both enamel and cementum. If you notice tooth sensitivity, give us a call!
  • Come in to our Middleton, WI office for regular dental exams. The best treatment for gum disease is prevention. When you come in for regular checkups, we are able to discover early signs of gum disease before it becomes a serious problem. If you are suffering from more advanced periodontitis, there are treatments available.
  • Safety first when it comes to your smile. If you chew on hard objects, talk to Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes about how to break the habit. If you grind your teeth, see us for solutions. If you play sports, let us know—often a mouthguard can help protect your teeth from injuries that could otherwise lead to more complex procedures or even tooth loss.

Maintaining your healthy dental habits is a lot like cementum—the foundation of a beautiful smile. Nothing complicated about that!

Are you nervous about seeing the dentist? You’re not alone!

March 24th, 2021

With advances in modern dentistry, a trip to Hartjes Dental Associates these days is pretty routine. But visiting Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team still makes some patients anxious—so much so that they don’t go as often as they should and end up with costly complications down the road, such as tooth decay or gum disease.

When it comes to dental care, prevention is the best medicine. And that begins with regular checkups and dental cleanings at our convenient Middleton, WI office. Today, we thought we would offer five tips for taking the pain out of a visit to see Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes:

1. Ask yourself: What are you most afraid of? Is it the sound of the drill? Do you have needle phobia? Have you been traumatized by previous dental visits? Write down your fears, one by one and talk about them during your visit.

2. Don’t wait. The more frequently your visit our office, the less work will need to be done at any given visit. Simply having your teeth cleaned professionally by Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes twice a year prevents many, if not most, problems down the road.

3. Bring a distraction such as music to your appointment. Just plug in those earphones, close your eyes, and get lost in the music. Listening to tunes can also be a pain killer.

4. Unwind. Inhaling slowly and counting to five helps. Try holding your breath for ten seconds, then exhale slowly to the count of eight, and repeat as needed.

5. Ask us. Before any given procedure, we encourage you to ask Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes or one of our assistants why we’re using the tools we’re using. Ask us what we’re doing, what the tool is used for, and how it benefits you. Also, please ask about anti-anxiety medications we may prescribe to help you relax during your appointment.

If you suffer from dental anxiety, a visit to Hartjes Dental Associates might seem like a daunting prospect. Perhaps you had a bad experience in the past, but whatever the reason, please know that at our Middleton, WI office, there is nothing to be afraid of.

Remember, you’re not alone. We understand that going to the dentist isn’t easy for everyone. In fact, the Journal of the American Dental Association estimates that as many as 12 percent of adults suffer from dental anxiety so bad that they avoid the dentist altogether. Many more suffer from varying degrees of dental anxiety, which often results in poor oral health.

If you suffer from dental anxiety, your fears don’t have to keep you from seeing Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes. Our patients at Hartjes Dental Associates are our most important asset, and we strive to create a comfortable experience, no matter how long it has been since your last visit at our Middleton, WI office. We hope to see you soon!

Going Green for St. Patrick’s Day?

March 17th, 2021

Happily for all of us who like to celebrate with friends and family, there’s no need to be Irish to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day. Every March 17th, many of us take the opportunity to display a bit of Gaelic spirit.

  • Green Clothing (it’s tradition!)
  • Green Hat (for a jaunty look)
  • Green Shamrock (always the perfect accessory)
  • Green Hair (for the adventurous among us)
  • Green Grins?

Here’s where we draw the line. Emerald Isle? Delightful! Emerald smile? Not so beguiling.

That traditional St. Patrick’s party fare—green-frosted sweet treats and green-colored pastries and green-foamed beers—is full of green-tinted food dyes, which can leave us with teeth in subtle shamrock shades. Luckily, most of us will have only a very temporary tinge to remind us of our dietary shenanigans, and there are simple ways to rid yourself of the green sheen:

  • Indulge sparingly in colorful cuisine, and drink water afterwards to rinse away green-dyed foods and beverages.
  • Use a straw for green drinks.
  • Brush your teeth. (Not only will you brush away the green, but you’ll brush away the sugars from sweet green desserts and the acids from sour green brews.)
  • Try a whitening toothpaste.

One special note: if you’ve just whitened your smile, best to eliminate strong food dyes from your diet for a few days. Teeth are more sensitive to staining after whitening, because the whitening process temporarily makes them more porous. Give yourself a few days, and your enamel will be back to (stain)fighting strength.

So, celebrate on the 17th and feel secure that on the 18th, your smile won’t be “wearing the green” any longer. But if you find that you’re not happy with the appearance of your smile anytime during the year, if you have more permanent staining caused by natural darkening over time, or workdays fueled by black coffee, or a diet filled with tomato sauce, dark berries, red wine, and other tasty (but discoloring) food, you’re still in luck.

Ask Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes about professional whitening procedures at our Middleton, WI office for a brighter, more confident smile. And with a bright, confident smile, every day’s a reason to celebrate!

Post Oral Surgery: Signs of Infection

March 10th, 2021

Oral surgery can be intimidating, especially if you show any signs of an infection afterwards. Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team want you to be informed about what to watch for after you’ve undergone surgery.

Oral surgery procedures are intended to reduce pain and prevent infection. Sometimes complications occur after your surgery, and if infection ensues, it will require swift medical attention.

People undergo oral surgery for many reasons, such as:

  • Impacted or infected teeth
  • Tooth loss, jaw problems
  • Facial injuries or infections
  • Birth defects
  • Sleep apnea

Symptoms of Infection

  • Pain that won’t go away with medication
  • Steadily swelling of gums, jaw, or face
  • Redness or oozing of pus from the area
  • Fever that doesn't subside
  • Difficulty opening the mouth or jaw
  • Excessive bleeding for 24 hours
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing (emergency situation)

After the initial surgery, don’t become worried right away if you notice any of these symptoms. It’s normal to show some blood and swelling after surgery, but that should stop fairly soon with the help of gauze and medication.

You will most likely be numb from the procedure and we will advise you to avoid hard foods for the first day. Pain medication will be administered, and you should take it before you begin to notice pain. A cold compress can also help with swelling and initial pain.

You will be advised not to brush your teeth in the region where the surgery occurred. You may use a prescription mouth rinse, or you can gargle with warm salt water to reduce the swelling. If you follow these directions, you can speed the healing process for a quick recovery.

Don’t fret: a post-surgery infection is not a common development. It happens most often to people who have a compromised immune system or diabetes. Let Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes know beforehand if you have either of these and we may prescribe an antibiotic to help prevent the spread of infection in the areas of your mouth that get worked on.

If you think you may be experiencing complications after a surgery, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Middleton, WI office for advice.  

Electric Toothbrushes vs. Regular Toothbrushes

March 3rd, 2021

Convertible or sedan? Downtown or suburbs? Electric or manual toothbrush? As life decisions go, it’s certainly not choosing your next car, or deciding where you want to live. But, even when you are selecting a toothbrush, it helps to make a list of the pros and cons of the contenders before you make that final selection.

  • Efficiency

The most important factor in choosing a toothbrush is finding out which model works best to eliminate bacteria and plaque. And studies have shown that, used properly, both electric and manual toothbrushes do a great job of removing plaque. Some electric models can reach the backs of teeth and the gumline more easily, some manual head designs work better for your individual mouth and teeth, so your particular needs should dictate which style of toothbrush you use. Talk to us about the best methods to brush with your preferred toothbrush, and we’ll let you know if one type of toothbrush or the other might work better for you.

  • Health Considerations

Brushing too energetically can actually harm teeth and gums, causing sensitivity and damage to the enamel and gum tissue. An electric toothbrush should provide a continuous brushing motion without needing any pressure from the brusher. This might be the model for you if you have a too-vigorous approach to brushing, or sensitive teeth and gums.

An electric toothbrush can also be more efficient for older and younger brushers, those with limited mobility, and those with health conditions or injuries that make brushing with a regular toothbrush more difficult.

  • Cost

An electric toothbrush is not a one-time investment. You should change the removable head as often as you change your manual toothbrush (every three to four months, please). But this cost is offset if an electric toothbrush is more efficient in removing your plaque, easier to use, or even if you just prefer it to manual brushing. If you find that you brush better and more often with an electric toothbrush, the added expense is well worth it.

Whichever brush you decide on, the most important part of the brush is the person holding it! A regular appointment with your toothbrush for two minutes of thorough brushing in the morning and two in the evening, daily flossing, and regular visits to our office for checkups and cleanings will keep your teeth healthy and strong no matter which toothbrush you choose.

Questions about your toothbrush choices? Don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes at our Middleton, WI office.

How do I avoid bad breath?

February 24th, 2021

At Hartjes Dental Associates, we see a lot of patients who are concerned about their bad breath, also known as halitosis. So today we thought we would educate our patients about what you can do to keep your pearly whites clean and your breath minty fresh!

Naturally, good oral hygiene on your part is the first step. With proper brushing and flossing you can keep halitosis in check. Even though you may have done an excellent job of brushing and flossing your teeth, if you fail to brush your tongue, you may still have bad breath. Bad breath is caused by odor-producing bacteria that grow in your mouth. Certain foods, medications, smoking, sinus issues, or even gum disease can cause bad breath.

Besides proper brushing and flossing, bad breath can be prevented if you:

Stop smoking/chewing tobacco-based products: Ask Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team for tips on kicking the habit.

Keep your mouth hydrated: Because a dry mouth typically leads to bad breath, drinking water or eating oranges or celery may help.

Visit our Middleton, WI office for regular dental checkups: By visiting Hartjes Dental Associates at least twice a year, you will keep bad breath at bay. Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes will conduct an oral exam and will be able detect and treat periodontal disease, dry mouth, or other problems that may be the cause of bad mouth odor.

Adults Can Get Cavities, Too

February 17th, 2021

There are some things we just don’t miss about being a kid. Getting grounded? A thing of the past. Curfew? Not happening. Confiscating our cell phones? As if. Cavities? While we’d like to think those are also a part of childhood we can happily leave behind, unfortunately, the potential for cavities is one thing we never outgrow.

If you are keeping up a healthy dental routine, you know that two minutes careful brushing and flossing twice a day, a sensible diet, and regular checkups and cleanings are the best way to keep cavities from ever developing. But adults face other challenges that children might not. What else should we look out for?

  • Over-Enthusiastic Brushing

Brushing too vigorously, or using a brush with hard or even medium bristles, can actually damage our teeth over the years. Enamel, as hard as it is, can erode, leading to the potential for decay, and gums can be pushed away from the lower part of our teeth, which are not covered by enamel. Talk to us about the gentle way to clean bacteria and plaque from your teeth while protecting your enamel and gums.

  • Receding Gums

Whether due to gum disease, improper brushing, genetic factors, or other causes, we often see gum recession as we age. This is not just an aesthetic problem—gum recession leaves the root area of our tooth exposed to plaque and bacteria. Because this part of our tooth is not protected by enamel, there is a greater risk for decay in this newly exposed area. Also, pockets between the teeth and gums can be home to infections which lead to more serious problems. We will examine the condition of your gums at every checkup, and are happy to suggest the best solutions for keeping your gums their healthiest.

  • Our Fillings Age, Too

Over time, fillings can become loose or damaged, allowing the bacteria that cause cavities to enter spaces within the tooth you cannot brush or floss. This is a problem we can catch at a regular checkup, but if you notice a damaged filling, lose a filling, feel sensitivity around a filled tooth, or have any other concerns, call us. Prompt replacement will stop decay before it leads to a more serious problem.

  • Life Is Unpredictable

A busy schedule can lead to unhealthy diet choices. Not just sugars, but acidic foods (like sodas, coffee, and wine) and carbs (which break down into sugars) can leave teeth more vulnerable to decay. Physical changes (working out, new medications and medical conditions) can lead to dry mouth, which creates a bacteria-friendly environment that can lead to tooth decay. Stress can have consequences such as weakened immune systems, tooth grinding, and unhealthy eating habits, all of which can lead to a higher risk of cavities.

Call our Middleton, WI office if you have any dental concerns. And talk to Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes about the changes in your life that might leave you more vulnerable to cavities or impact your overall dental health. We have suggestions and solutions for this phase of your life to protect and preserve that wonderful smile you had as a child. And that’s a great result at any age!

When Is a “Cavity” Not a Cavity?

February 10th, 2021

Is this a trick question? After all, you probably already know quite a lot about cavities:

  • It all begins when bacteria-filled plaque sticks to teeth and starts to attack enamel. How?
  • Because the bacteria in plaque use the sugars and other foods we eat to produce acids.
  • These acids gradually weaken teeth by dissolving minerals which help make up our enamel (a process called demineralization).
  • Over time, a hole, or cavity, develops in the tooth surface.
  • Left untreated, bacterial decay can spread to the inside of the tooth, creating a more serious cavity.

Some cavities aren’t discovered until you visit our Middleton, WI office, but sometimes there are clear signs that there’s a problem.

  • You have tooth pain or sensitivity.
  • Your tooth changes color in spots where the enamel has decayed.
  • You might even notice enamel loss when a cavity is large enough.

So, if you have any of these symptoms, it’s a cavity, right? It might be—but it might not. Sometimes, because the symptoms are similar, what we suspect is a cavity is really enamel erosion.

The bacteria-created acids weaken enamel. But it’s not just bacteria that subject our teeth to acids—we do it ourselves with our choice of food and drink. Acidic foods are one of the leading causes of tooth erosion.

Our normal saliva pH level is around a 7, which is neutral. Any number lower is acidic; any number higher is alkaline. Acidic foods have a low pH (the pH of lemon juice, for example, measures between 2 and 3), and can reduce our normal, neutral pH level. When saliva pH levels drop to 5.5 or lower, tooth enamel starts to demineralize, just as it does when exposed to the acids from oral bacteria.

Regularly snacking on citrus and other acidic fruits, wine, fruit juices, flavored teas, sour candies, and other acidic foods can cause enamel erosion. Especially erosive are sports drinks, energy drinks, and colas, because they contain some combination of citric acid, phosphoric acid and/or carbonation.

The symptoms of tooth erosion and damaged enamel can be very similar to those caused by cavities:

  • You suffer tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Your teeth appear discolored, as the enamel thins to reveal the yellowish dentin underneath
  • You notice missing enamel—your teeth become rounded or have little pits known as cupping

You call Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes right away if you suspect a cavity. Be just as proactive if you suspect erosion. Even though your symptoms may not have been caused by plaque and bacteria, acidic erosion from your diet leaves weakened enamel just as vulnerable to cavities and decay.

How to avoid erosion?

  • Enjoy acidic foods sparingly, or as part of a meal. This helps your saliva pH stay in the neutral zone.
  • Balance acidic foods with low-acid choices to help neutralize acids and restore a normal pH balance. (A good reason to pair wine or fruits with cheese.)
  • Use a straw! This simple solution keeps erosive drinks from bathing your teeth in acids.
  • Drink water instead of an acidic beverage, or drink it afterward to rinse your mouth. The pH of pure water? A perfect, neutral 7.
  • And what about brushing right after eating or drinking something acidic? Ask Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes if you should rush for your brush. We may recommend waiting 30 minutes or so after an acidic treat to give teeth time to remineralize after acids weaken them. Otherwise, brushing might cause more wear and tear on your enamel.
  • Finally, while foods are often the source of acid erosion, medical conditions can cause erosion as well. Talk to us about ways to minimize erosion while addressing your medical needs.

There’s no trick to it—watching your diet, brushing and flossing as recommended, using a fluoride toothpaste, and visiting Hartjes Dental Associates for regular checkups will help prevent tooth erosion. We can restore eroded enamel with bonding, veneers, or crowns if the erosion is serious. Better still is to catch erosion before symptoms appear to keep your teeth their strongest for a lifetime of healthy, beautiful smiles.

Why Do Molars Seem to Get More Cavities?

February 3rd, 2021

Probably because, for many kids, molars do get more cavities. So let’s answer two better questions: Why do molars get more cavities? And, how can we help prevent them?

It’s the Pits. (And Fissures.)

The reason molars are so useful—and more likely to develop cavities—is because of their shape. Unlike our front teeth, which are used to bite through foods, molars are used to grind and chew. That’s why they are so much larger, with a flat surface on top. Well, not exactly flat.

When you look at a molar, you’ll notice that the top isn’t really smooth at all. It’s covered with little indentations known as pits and longer grooves called fissures. These irregular features both trap food particles and make it more difficult for bristles to clean them away. Cavities in molar surfaces are so common that they even have a specific name: “pit and fissure cavities.”

But molar biology does not mean tooth decay is inevitable! There are steps you can take to protect your children’s molars as they grow, while you’re providing them with dental strategies that will keep their adult molars healthy and cavity-free.

Preventing Pit and Fissure Cavities

  • Don’t Just Brush—Brush Effectively

The first step in preventing any kind of cavity is brushing properly. Your child should be brushing at least two minutes, at least twice each day. And while the time we spend brushing is important, technique is also key.

When you’re showing your child how to brush, be sure that the tops of molars, upper and lower, get brushed thoroughly, with special emphasis on cleaning pits and fissures. Make sure the toothbrush is small enough to fit your child’s mouth comfortably and reach all the tooth surfaces. Replace worn-down brushes or electric toothbrush heads after three to four months when they no longer clean as effectively.

Your child will probably need adult supervision from toddler years through the early years of grade school to learn how to brush properly. This is time well spent, as your child learns cavity-preventing brushing techniques which will last a lifetime.

  • Eat a Tooth-Healthy Diet

Plaque bacteria use the sugars in our food to make acids. These acids break down the mineral strength of tooth enamel and eventually lead to cavities. And because pits and fissures are great hiding places for bacteria and food particles (especially sticky ones), molars are even more at risk for cavities. Limiting sugary, sticky foods like sweet treats and simple carbs helps reduce that risk.

Acidic foods like flavored juices, sour candies, sodas, and power drinks also weaken enamel and can leave teeth more vulnerable to decay. Help your child avoid cavities by limiting acidic foods and drinks, making them part of a balanced meal, and/or rinsing with water after eating.

  • Use Fluoride Toothpaste

Fluoride toothpaste not only reduces the risk of cavities, it also helps strengthen enamel that has been weakened by bacterial and dietary acids. Win-win!

  • Ask About Sealants

Sealants are invisible, safe coatings which protect molars by preventing food and bacteria from getting trapped in their uneven surfaces. The top of the molar is first treated with an etching solution to allow the sealant to bond tightly to the tooth, a thin coat of sealant is painted on, and then it’s hardened under a curing light. That’s all there is to it.

Sealants are often recommended when children’s permanent molars first erupt, when they are especially at risk for cavities. Sealants can last from three to five years (or even longer), and studies have shown a dramatic reduction in cavities for patients who use sealants compared to patients with untreated teeth. Depending on your child’s individual needs, Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes might recommend a sealant for baby molars as well.

  • Regular Exams and Cleanings

It might be hard for you to tell if your child’s molars have been affected by sticky plaque, or sugary foods, or acidic drinks, or inadequate brushing, or any other potential cavity-causers. It’s not a difficult job for Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes, though! Through regular checkups and cleanings at our Middleton, WI office, we will discover any conditions that might lead to cavities, and, if necessary, treat small cavities before they lead to more serious decay.

Statistically, childhood molars have a greater chance of developing cavities than incisors and canines. Help your child beat the odds by understanding why these teeth are at risk and by working with your dental team to give your child years of healthy teeth now and a future filled with beautiful smiles!

Easing Your Allergies with Latex-Free Dentistry

January 27th, 2021

Imagine this scenario: you go to the dentist to have a cavity filled, and an hour after the procedure you have a runny nose, scratchy throat, and your arms are breaking out in blotchy, red hives. In other words, you’re in worse shape after the visit to the dentist than you were before you walked in to have the cavity fixed. If you experience any of these types of symptoms or side effects, chances are you have a latex allergy.

What is a latex allergy?

A latex allergy is a hypersensitivity to latex proteins. If you have this allergy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you avoid direct contact with any materials that contain latex. While latex gloves are known to cause allergic reactions in people with a latex allergy, certain metals, plastics, and other materials used in dental care can also cause an adverse response.

A runny nose and itchy eyes are common allergic reactions to latex. However, Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team at Hartjes Dental Associates want you to know it can also trigger more severe symptoms, including asthma, wheezing, and cardiovascular and gastrointestinal ailments.

A latex-safe dental environment

Many dental offices screen patients for a latex allergy. This is only beneficial, however, if you’re already aware you have a latex allergy. The best thing you can do to ease your allergies is to find a dentist who has a latex-safe environment. A latex-safe dental environment observes the following protocols:

  • All patients are screened for a latex allergy.
  • No personnel use latex gloves.
  • All latex products are removed from the patient’s vicinity, including rubber dams and elastics.
  • Work areas contaminated with latex powder are cleaned frequently.
  • Signs are posted to communicate all latex allergy procedures in case of an emergency.

If a latex allergy is part of your medical history, then it’s in your best interest to find a latex-free dental environment. To learn more about latex-free dentistry, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes, please give us a call at our convenient Middleton, WI office!

What is gum disease?

January 20th, 2021

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an infection of the gum tissues, and is something seen all too often by Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes. Extending from inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) to more serious infections and complications (periodontitis), there is a wide range of gum disease severity.

Not only does gum disease affect the health of your mouth and teeth, but according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, it can affect your general health as well. This is because an infection in the mouth as a result of gum disease can travel to other parts of your body through the bloodstream. Gum disease is also a risk factor for heart disease, and can play a role in blood sugar levels.

Causes and Risk Factors

Gum disease is essentially caused by the build-up of bacteria in your mouth. If you brush and floss every day, this bacteria is washed away, but if not, it turns into plaque. If left unchecked, this plaque buildup can lead to gum disease.

Some of the common risk factors for gum disease include not taking good care of your teeth, failing to have one’s teeth cleaned every six months, experiencing hormonal changes, smoking cigarettes, developing diabetes, being genetically exposed to gum disease, or taking certain types of medications.

Gingivitis versus Periodontitis

There are two main types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Both are bad for you, but gingivitis is less severe. It is typically the first stage, and involves inflammation of the gums from plaque and tartar on the teeth. If your gums are swollen and bleed, this is a sign of gingivitis.

Periodontitis, a more severe case of gum disease, occurs when your gums pull away from the teeth and pockets form. These pockets are a concern because they can harbor infection.

Treatments for Gum Disease

Treatments for gum disease depend on the cause and severity. Deep cleaning to remove the plaque underneath the gum line – called root scaling and planing – is one of the most common treatments for gum disease. Antibiotics placed under the gums to rid you of an infection or reduce the inflammation may also be advised. In some cases, surgical procedures, including flap surgery and bone and tissue grafts, are needed.

If you have bleeding or swollen gums, pockets between your gums and teeth, pain, or other issues, you might have gum disease. Visit Hartjes Dental Associates for an exam and learn the best course of action.

How long will a root canal last?

January 13th, 2021

According to the American Association of Endodontists, root canals have a success rate of over 95% and in most cases they last a lifetime.

There are a few factors that ensure the root canal will last and should be followed.

  • You want to make sure you allow Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes to perform a permanent restoration of the tooth. That means getting the filling and the crown immediately after the canals have been cleaned of all bacteria and debris.
  • Practice good oral hygiene; that means brushing and flossing at least three times a day especially after meals and before bed.
  • Just because a tooth has had a root canal that does not mean the tooth is safe for as long as it remains in your mouth. That tooth can still get a cavity. Since the nerves are no longer present in that tooth you will not feel any pain or experience any other signs of a cavity. That’s why it is important to get regular cleanings and checkups.
  • If the tooth becomes fractured or you develop an abscess, you will feel pain and know there is a problem with the tooth.

Why do root canals fail?

As mentioned above, only about five percent of root canals fail, and sometimes it is not actually a “failure.” In cases, of teeth that have more than one root, it is possible that only one root was infected and filled. If the remaining root(s) become infected in the future, they will also need a root canal performed on them.

There are a few other reasons why your root canal may fail:

  • The first reason is you may not have taken good care of your tooth (teeth). This is commonly seen in children and teens who often have inconsistent oral hygiene habits.
  • If the tooth has more than one root, and one of the roots has a minute infection that is undetectable and goes unnoticed it can cause the root canal to fail. While this scenario is very unlikely, it does occasionally happen.
  • Over time, the seal can become weak and bacteria can enter the tooth. This is also very uncommon but it does happen.

No procedure dental or medical comes with a 100% guarantee to last a lifetime, but if you take care of your treated tooth, the chances of success are great.

If you have any additional questions about root canals and your oral health, be sure to ask a member of our team at our Middleton, WI office.

Going Green for the New Year

January 6th, 2021

Does your list of New Year’s resolutions for the coming months include reducing your ecological footprint? If so, let’s ring in the year with some basic—and some innovative—dental ideas to help you meet your goal.

  • Conserve Water

This is probably the easiest –and most cost effective!—item on our list. If you leave the water running while you brush, you are watching gallons of water go down the drain every day. Luckily, toothbrushes rely on wrist power rather than water power. Wet your brush before you begin, and use water only as needed to rinse. You’ll save hundreds of gallons of water every year.

And while we’re near your sink, if you like to rinse after brushing and flossing with disposable plastic cups, consider using compostable paper products or a regular drinking glass that you can clean after using.

  • Biodegradable/sustainable /recyclable toothbrushes

Some brushes promise to be completely compostable, with handles manufactured from sustainable woods or bamboo, and heads fitted with biodegradable boar bristles. Investigate before you buy, because boar bristles aren’t for everyone. Some users complain about the taste, and boar bristles are harsher than the soft bristles we recommend to protect your enamel and gums. Organic bristles are also more prone to bacteria growth.

If you prefer the consistency and texture of regular synthetic bristles, or wish to avid animal products, you can still opt for a brush with a handle of sustainable wood or bamboo. These brushes also offer PBA-free bristles, bristles made largely from castor oil, or bristles that use natural ingredients in combination with synthetics.

And don’t forget recycling as a possibility to cut down on your plastic use. Toothbrushes are available with handles made from recycled plastic. And once you’re finished with them, these brushes can be recycled again.

  • Biodegradable dental floss

This is another innovative take on dental supplies, and one that offers lots of new options. Regular dental floss is usually made from waxed nylon. Biodegradable floss, on the other hand, can be made of silk or plant materials, and coated with beeswax or plant-based wax. Some of these biodegradable flosses even come in refillable or compostable packaging.

  • Organic toothpaste

If you’re incorporating organic foods into your diet, you know that organic options are more easily available than ever before. And now there are more organic toothpastes available, as well. Natural toothpastes can be found which are vegan, fair-trade sourced, and preservative- and artificial ingredient-free.

Before you buy, though, do discuss your choices with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes. Why? Because many natural toothpastes are formulated without fluoride, a mineral shown to prevent cavities in study after study. Which leads us to . . .

  • See Your Dentist Regularly for Checkups and Cleanings

Along with your daily dental hygiene routine, don’t forget to make regular appointments for examinations and professional cleanings at our Middleton, WI office. Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes can help you discover the best ideas for products and practices which are good for you and good for the planet, for a lifetime of natural, sustainable smiles.

Healthy Resolutions for Healthy Teeth

December 30th, 2020

Every January 1st, you have your resolutions ready. No more nail biting. Lose ten pounds. Stop smoking. None of us are happy about those annoying bad habits we’ve picked up over the years. But if nothing else has helped you keep your resolutions, maybe seeing how they can improve your oral health will give you some extra willpower.

  • No More Nail Biting

You can easily see how nail biting affects your fingernails, but its effects are more than cosmetic. The pressure this habit puts on tooth enamel can lead to cracks, chips, and enamel erosion. Nail biters have a greater risk of bruxism, or teeth grinding. (More on that below.) And the transfer of germs from fingers to mouth and mouth to fingers is a vicious circle that can lead to illnesses and infections in both fingers and mouth.

  • Cut Down on Junk Food

Sugars and carbs help pack on the pounds, no doubt. Did you know that they can also help create cavities? Sugar is a favorite food for oral bacteria, which allows them to produce acids which attack and weaken tooth enamel. And carbs? They convert easily to simple sugars. Choose nutritious snacks and beverages, and you will keep those teeth healthy. You might even lose a few pounds!

  • Lower the Volume

If your partner complains about sleepless nights thanks to your nocturnal teeth grinding, or your friends ask you to quit chewing on that cup of ice while they’re trying to watch a movie with you, listen to them! (If you can hear them over the grinding and chewing.) Bruxism can fracture teeth, cause headaches and jaw problems, and might even lead to loose teeth. Chewing hard foods can have the very same effects. Too much pressure from any source can damage your teeth. Grinding, chewing ice, crunching down on hard candies—any habit that’s loud enough to annoy others could be a warning to be more careful of your teeth.

  • Don’t Put That in Your Mouth!

Helping you eat and chew nutritious foods—of course. Smiling—absolutely. Ripping off a piece of duct tape, tearing open a potato chip bag, holding your dog’s leash while you look for your keys, opening a tight bottle cap—no, no, no, and really no. Fractures and chips are common injuries when you use your teeth as tools. Your teeth have a crucial job to do, but that job description never includes “scissors” or “nutcracker” or “bottle opener.” Take that extra minute and find the tool you need!

  • Drink in Moderation

Along with all the other consequences of over-indulging, too much alcohol in your diet can be bad for your oral health. Alcohol, especially paired with sugary drinks, helps create that acidic environment that leads to weakened enamel. More than that, it’s dehydrating. Without sufficient hydration, we don’t have the optimal saliva production we need to fight cavities. After all, saliva helps wash away food particles and bacteria, neutralizes acids, and strengthens enamel through remineralization. Ring in the New Year—moderately!

  • It’s Time to Quit

Cigarettes, pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco—there is no tobacco product that is healthy for your body or your teeth! We’re all familiar with the discoloration tobacco can cause, but it also has serious oral health consequences. Oral cancer, gum disease, early tooth loss—all these conditions have been linked to tobacco use. Today there are more methods than ever before to help you quit. Make this your year!

You don’t have to wait for the New Year to start working on healthier habits. If you’d like to tackle teeth grinding, banish nail biting, stop smoking, or work on any other habits that can damage your health and your teeth, talk to Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes at your next visit to our Middleton, WI office. And, don’t forget—resolving to see us twice a year for a checkup and a cleaning is a resolution that’s extremely easy to keep!

Why Professional Cleanings are Important

December 23rd, 2020

Regular dental cleanings and checkups at our Middleton, WI office are an excellent way to ensure everything is A-OK in your mouth. There’s a reason the American Dental Association recommends a professional cleaning every six months!

Here’s what you can usually expect during your visit with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes:

  • Head and neck examination: The dentist or dental hygienist will look for anything out of the ordinary. He or she will check your lymph nodes and lower jaw joints (also known as TMJs).
  • Dental examination: The dentist or hygienist will check for any signs of gum disease, tooth decay, loose or broken teeth, or damaged fillings. We’ll also check your bite, the contact between your upper and lower teeth, and the condition of any dental appliances you’re wearing. Sometimes we’ll also take a set of X-rays.
  • Dental cleaning: Plaque and tartar will be removed and the dentist or hygienist will polish your teeth. Your teeth and gums will be flossed, and we’ll also make recommendations about proper brushing and flossing technique if we think you need them.

When you visit our Middleton, WI office regularly, we’ll be able to compare the status of your teeth and gums from one appointment to another. That ensures we will be able to tell where you’re doing great in taking care of your teeth, and if needed, where you’re doing not so well.

If you’re in need of serious help, we might recommend more frequent visits. But remember, the most important factor in your oral health is how you take care of your teeth and gums at home between appointments.

We strive to help our patients achieve and maintain radiant, healthy smiles! If you'd like to know more about exams and cleanings at our Middleton, WI office, or what you need to do at home to maintain an effective oral health routine, please let us know.

Chipped Your Tooth? Now What?

December 9th, 2020

Accidents happen. Next time you’ll wear your mouthguard when you skateboard, never use your teeth to open anything, and carefully step away from your grandmother’s hard candy dish. But what to do now for your chipped tooth?

First of all, call Hartjes Dental Associates. Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team can offer tips on dealing with any pain and how to avoid injuring your tooth further. Make an appointment to see us as soon as possible, where one of the following options might be the best treatment for you:

  • Bonding

If the chip is small, you might be a good candidate for bonding. A tooth-colored resin is applied to the damaged area with adhesive, molded to shape, and then hardened with a curing light. It is then polished and, if necessary, further shaped to match your surrounding teeth.

  • Porcelain Veneer

A veneer is a thin shell of porcelain individually molded for your tooth. If the chip is too large for bonding, or if you would like a more translucent finish, a veneer might be appropriate. During your first appointment, some of the tooth structure will be gently removed to accommodate the size of the veneer. A mold will be taken and sent to a lab for the creation of the veneer, which will be bonded to your tooth on a later visit. Whether a veneer will be successful depends on several variables, such as the condition of the tooth and enamel, your bite, and whether you grind your teeth. We will take all these factors into consideration in discussing possible treatments.

  • Crown

A large chip or pain when eating or drinking might mean that you need a crown. This “cap” will protect your tooth from the pressures of chewing as well as restoring its appearance. On your first visit, some of the tooth structure will probably be removed to make room for the crown, impressions will be taken for the dental lab to make a permanent crown, and a temporary model will be fitted to your tooth. In a following visit the permanent crown will be adhered to your tooth.

If the crack has extended to the pulp of the tooth, you might need a root canal. If this is necessary, we will discuss the procedure during our exam.

No matter the size of the chip, it is important to contact our Middleton, WI office immediately to help avoid infection and prevent further damage. If your tooth is broken below the gumline or otherwise seriously compromised, more intensive care will be necessary. But when a minor accident happens, prompt treatment can quickly restore your smile to health.

‘Tis the Season—for Healthy Dental Choices!

December 2nd, 2020

It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but if you’re dashing through the snow to an emergency dental appointment, you’re not feeling very jolly. And post-holiday, no one wants to start off their New Year’s Resolutions with “Get Cavities Filled.” How to survive the sweetest of seasons with enamel and fillings intact?

Candies and sweets would normally be on the naughty list, but we’re not Scrooges! Indulging in a treat or two is part of the holiday fun, and we have some advice for how to enjoy them guilt-free. But first, some treats are definitely more naughty than nice. Which are the ones that are better as decorations than desserts?

  • Candy Canes

If you’ve ever suffered a chipped or cracked tooth after an innocently biting down on a much-harder-than-expected piece of candy, you know that caution is in order. That’s why we tend to take our time with candy canes, letting them dissolve slowly in the mouth. Of course, the drawback to this strategy is that now we’re slowly bathing our teeth in sugar, encouraging the growth of plaque and cavity-causing bacteria.

Candy canes, peppermints, and other hard candies are potentially bad for your teeth when you crunch away, and definitely bad for your teeth if you let them dissolve slowly.

  • Gumdrops

Glistening, colorful gumdrops. Roofing your gingerbread house, trimming a gumdrop tree, or simply sitting in a bowl, they are one of the sweetest ways to decorate for the holidays. And when we say “sweet,” we mean that literally. Most gumdrops are basically made of corn syrup and sugar—and then rolled in more sugar.

But their sugar content isn’t the only problem. This is sugar in an extra-gummy form that sticks between our teeth and around our gums.

  • Toffees, Caramels, Taffy

They might come in lovely ribboned boxes, but these extremely sticky foods are not a gift to your teeth.

Not only do chewy candies stick to enamel, they stick to fillings, crowns (especially temporary crowns), and orthodontic wires and brackets. No one wants an unexpected trip to the dentist or orthodontist because dental work has been damaged or dislodged!

  • Gingerbread Houses

Nothing says the holidays like a gingerbread house—chewy, sticky gingerbread covered with hard sugar icing, gumdrops, and peppermints. Great for your décor; not so great for your dental health. Eat one gingerbread man if you’re in a spicy mood and leave your architectural masterpiece intact.

  • Fruitcake

If you need an excuse to turn down fruitcake, here’s a perfect one: most fruitcake is not great for your teeth. Candied fruit is, well, candied, and dried fruit is sugary, sticky, and chewy. There are delicious exceptions, of course, but even a delicious fruitcake is very high in sugar.

Well, this list wasn’t very jolly. So as a little holiday gift for you, here are some suggestions to help you enjoy your desserts in the healthiest way possible.

  • Be choosy.

Just like you search for the perfect presents for your family and friends, take the time to choose the perfect holiday treats for yourself. If you are worried about cavities, or have a temporary crown, or wear braces, or have cracked a tooth before, or are just generally concerned with your oral health, stay away from sticky, hard, and excessively sugary desserts.

What can you accept from your holiday hosts with a grateful (and relieved) smile? The occasional soft chocolate should be nothing to stress about—and if you make it dark chocolate, you’ll actually get nutritional bonuses like magnesium and antioxidants. Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pies—yes, they are made with lots of sugar, but it is the holidays after all. Just be sure to follow our next suggestions to make that slice of cheesecake guilt-free.

  • Eat sweets with a meal.

Saliva does more than keep our mouths from getting dry. It also helps prevent cavities by washing away food particles and neutralizing the acids from food and bacteria, which damage enamel.

Eat dessert with a meal, and you benefit from increased mealtime saliva production. When you snack throughout the day, this acid-neutralizing ability is greatly reduced.

  • Rinse after eating.

Rinsing your mouth with water after a meal or a snack, especially a sugary one, also helps wash away the sticky sugars and carbs, which oral bacteria convert into acids.

  • Brush immediately. (Maybe.)

It’s always a good idea to brush right after eating—well, almost always. If you’ve been eating acidic foods like citrus or colas, the acids in the food can weaken your enamel just enough to cause some potential enamel damage if you scour your teeth immediately after eating. We often recommend waiting about 30 minutes to brush to give your enamel a chance to recover.

But every mouth is different. If you wear braces, or tend to get food stuck in your teeth or dental work, or have any other concerns, ask Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes for the best times and methods for holiday brushing.

You don’t want to ho-ho-hope that we can fit you in at our Middleton, WI office to treat a cavity or a cracked tooth. Make your holiday dessert list and check it twice, and make sure you’re brushing and flossing more often if you’re indulging in seasonal treats—give yourself these two gifts, and you’ll be ringing in the New Year with a beautiful, healthy smile. Sweet!

The Advantage of Invisalign Teen®

November 25th, 2020

Many teens want to improve their smile without the pain and embarrassment of having to wear metal braces. Just like metal braces, Invisalign works by gently moving teeth into position. Metal braces are worn continuously, however, and need to be adjusted by Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes regularly in order to move the teeth into proper position.

Invisalign uses a series of clear trays to move teeth into position. When you are done with one tray, simply pop in the next! Invisalign Teen straightens teeth just as well as traditional metal braces, but has several advantages.

Invisible

You’ve probably figured out the most obvious advantage already: the aligners are nearly invisible. Invisalign works by using a series of clear aligners that should be worn 20 to 22 hours a day. Invisalign trays are almost undetectable when you wear them, so you can smile with confidence — even while you are straightening your teeth.

Removable

One of the best things about Invisalign Teen is that the trays are removable. This means you can remove your tray to eat, brush, and floss your teeth, or even to play sports. While Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team at Hartjes Dental Associates require you to wear the trays for most of the day, having the ability to remove your straightening trays means you have practically none of the dietary restrictions that metal brace wearers have to observe.

Teens that play contact sports often experience difficulties with metal braces. Invisalign Teen allows the flexibility to wear a mouthguard, and no metal wires or brackets means less risk of cuts or other injuries while playing a game. Musicians also benefit from being able to remove their trays during rehearsals and performances. You can even remove your tray for your school photo or to snap a quick selfie!

Finally, because you can remove your aligners, you can easily keep your teeth clean through normal brushing and flossing. You can also clean your trays by brushing and rinsing them in warm water. Brushing and flossing with metal braces can be frustrating and time-consuming. Invisalign Teen treatment at Hartjes Dental Associates helps you keep your smile white and shiny with very little change to your normal routine.

To learn more about Invisalign Teen, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes, please give us a call at our convenient Middleton, WI office!

We proudly offer Invisalign Teen®!

November 18th, 2020

Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team are excited to offer Invisalign Teen, a clear alternative to braces that’s just for teens! With Invisalign Teen, we are able to straighten your teen’s teeth without the hassle, discomfort, and embarrassment of traditional braces.

Invisalign Teen’s clear aligners are virtually invisible. What's more, they are removable, which means your child is free to eat anything they choose, as well as brush and floss with ease! And best of all, Invisalign Teen uses no wires or metal to straighten your teen's teeth.

Invisalign Teen aligners are made from a lightweight plastic material and fit precisely on the teeth. Invisalign Teen has become a popular treatment here at Hartjes Dental Associates because it helps our younger patients achieve a straight, beautiful smile without their friends noticing.

Our team at Hartjes Dental Associates is aware that most teens today have a busy lifestyle, and sometimes, they tend to lose things, including their retainers or aligners. But with Invisalign Teen, if your child happens to lose an aligner, let Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team know as soon as possible and we will have the aligner replaced.

For more information on Invisalign Teen, please give us a call at our convenient Middleton, WI office today!

How Sedation Dentistry Can Help You Overcome Dental Anxiety

November 11th, 2020

Sometimes people feel a tiny bit nervous when they sit in the dental chair. And sometimes it’s more than a tiny bit. If your anxiety over visiting the office leads you to skip regular checkups and cleanings, or, worse, if you would rather suffer tooth or gum pain than give us a call—give our Middleton, WI office a call! Sedation dentistry might be just the procedure you need to make dental anxiety a thing of the past.

Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team are trained to administer sedation and to monitor your responses throughout. And we want you to have all the information you need to decide on any dental treatment, including sedation. We will tell you of any risks, and describe the procedure in detail. If you have any health conditions or take any medications that might interfere with sedation, we can discuss your options with you and your doctor to make sure you are a good candidate. We will explain any preparations you should take, and let you know if there is a window of recovery time needed in our office while the sedation wears off.

Don’t let yourself suffer dental pain because you suffer from dental anxiety! Please call us to discuss sedation. We are trained to administer the treatment you choose gently and safely. Above all, we want to help you keep your smile the heathiest it can be, and that only happens when you have regular dental care. Let us work with you to make that care as comfortable and stress-free as possible.

Cold Comfort

November 4th, 2020

The sounds of the season are filling the air—falling leaves rustling along the sidewalk, football cheers, holiday greetings—and the coughs and sneezes of your fellow sufferers. Yes, it’s cold and flu season, and you’re one of the unfortunate people who’s caught whatever it is that’s been going around. While you’re recuperating, here are some tips for looking after yourself and your dental health.

  • Keep Hydrated

Fevers, sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting can all lead to dehydration. You know how serious that can be for your overall health, but it also leads to problems for your oral health. Lowered saliva production puts you at an increased risk for cavities, since saliva washes away food particles and bacteria, neutralizes cavity-causing acids, and helps strengthen tooth enamel. In addition to the dehydration illness can cause, many over the counter medications leave your mouth dry as well. Be sure to drink fluids throughout your illness, and, as always, try to avoid sugary beverages and acidic drinks.

  • Keep Up Your Dental Hygiene

You may feel like you never want to get out of bed again, but it’s important to maintain your dental routine. Brushing and flossing are still necessary to protect your teeth and gums. And try gargling with warm saltwater or a mouth rinse. You’ll not only soothe a sore throat and help prevent the bad breath that sinus problems can cause, but you’ll also reduce oral bacteria and plaque.

  • Keep Away from Your Toothbrush after Vomiting

Even though cleaning your mouth and teeth might be the first thing you want do to after throwing up, wait at least half an hour before brushing your teeth. Cavities occur over time when tooth enamel is weakened by the acids oral bacteria produce. When you vomit, your teeth are exposed to much stronger stomach acids, and immediate brushing simply brushes these acids on to your enamel. One common recommendation is to mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a glass of water, swish it around your mouth, and spit it out. Or simply use a glass of plain water, and repeat if needed.

  • Keep Your Cough under Control

Here’s a tip your family, friends, co-workers, and fellow public transportation users will thank you for: If you are sick, stay home. If you do find yourself coughing while around others, cover your mouth. Cough into a tissue instead of your hands or the open air. If you don’t have a tissue available, cough into your upper sleeve.  And while you’re protecting others, protect your tooth enamel. Replace overly sweet cough syrups with tablets, and, if you are using cough drops, remember that sucking on a sugary cough drop is like sucking on candy. Look for the sugar-free variety and use only as directed.

  • Don’t Keep Your Toothbrush

Now that you’re feeling better, it might be time to throw out your toothbrush. The chances of re-infection are low (unless you have a compromised immune system), but we often hang on to our toothbrushes long after their effective days are past. A toothbrush should only last around three to four months. If yours is older than that, this is a perfect opportunity to replace a brush that might be getting a bit long in the tooth with a fresh, germ-free model.

Above all, be good to yourself when you are ill. Drink healthy fluids, maintain your dental routine, and treat your teeth and your body with care. Here’s wishing you a speedy recovery, continuing dental health, and a season filled with beautiful smiles.

What is Nitrous Oxide?

October 28th, 2020

Many patients experience anxiety during dental appointments. Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team want to help you overcome any fear you may feel when you come to your regular visits.

If you know you suffer from anxiety during your dental checkups, nitrous oxide sedation, popularly known as “laughing gas,” may be helpful during your next appointment. Nitrous oxide can be used during many types of dental procedures.

It has a sweet odor and taste, and gets mixed with oxygen when supplied through a mask. The effects typically kick in within a few minutes and leave you feeling calm and relaxed.

Nitrous is helpful because you will stay conscious and able to move and answer questions the doctor may ask you. The drug is also convenient because the effects go away within a few minutes after the mask is removed.

Nitrous oxide is not dangerous for your body when it’s combined with oxygen. It is non-addictive and non-allergenic. When used properly, nitrous oxide reduces anxiety, while allowing continued communication between the patient and dentist during a procedure. It can also help alleviate pain or discomfort during your exam.

You should know that nitrous oxide may cause nausea in up to ten percent of patients. This drug is not recommended for people who suffer from certain medical conditions. We recommend discussing this method with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes if your dental anxiety begins to interfere with your appointments.

We want all our patients to feel comfortable during their care. Talk with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes at your next appointment to find out if nitrous oxide is the right option for you. If you have questions regarding nitrous oxide, call our Middleton, WI location and we’ll be happy to answer them.

 

Implants: Why It’s Important to Replace Missing Teeth

October 21st, 2020

Sometimes, despite our best care, we lose a tooth. If it is a front tooth, it will probably be a high priority to replace. But if a missing tooth doesn’t show when we smile, what’s the hurry? Let’s look at the reasons why prompt replacement with an implant is always a good idea, no matter which tooth is involved.

Appearance

Implants look like natural, individual teeth, but that is not the only aesthetic reason to replace a lost tooth. Without some type of tooth replacement, missing teeth can eventually affect the structure of our jawbones and change our facial appearance. Cheeks, lips, profiles—all are impacted by the changes in our bones resulting from tooth loss.

Better Bite

Nature abhors a vacuum, and so do our teeth. When a space is left by a missing tooth, the teeth around it might shift positions, affecting the even pattern of our bite. And without a tooth to keep it in place, a tooth above or below the missing one might begin to grow longer to fill the void in your bite. This lengthening, in turn, can cause even more bite problems.

Chewing

With the loss of only a single tooth, there is a negative impact on the remaining teeth. More pressure is placed on the other teeth in order to chew properly, front teeth not meant for chewing might need to be used for that purpose, or food is not chewed as thoroughly as it should be. The first two problems are not healthy for our teeth, and the last one is not healthy for digestion!

Don’t Delay

Changes in bite and chewing problems probably won’t happen overnight, so is putting off the process really a big deal? It can be! Time is not on our side when a tooth is lost. The bone tissue which supports our teeth needs the stimulation of biting and chewing to stay healthy. Without that stimulation, the bone area under the missing tooth gradually shrinks. If there is not enough bone area left, you might need surgical bone grafting to achieve the right bone height to hold an implant, or it could lead to the impossibility of placing an implant at all.

Expense

Replacing a lost tooth quickly requires less restoration of the gums and bone in the future and prevents other serious problems from developing.

We could continue through the alphabet, but instead, come talk to Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes about all the reasons a tooth implant might be your best option. Whether you have already lost a tooth, or if you have an extraction scheduled at our Middleton, WI office, we are happy to recommend the best procedure at just the right time to make your smile beautiful, healthy, and complete!

Alleviating Anxiety before Your Implant Procedure

October 14th, 2020

Does the thought of getting a dental implant put knots in your stomach? There are many people who don't enjoy getting dental work done and there is a myriad of reasons why. For whatever reason you aren't at your best when you arrive at our Middleton, WI office, we'd like to offer some tips that can help put you at ease for your implant procedure.

Sedation

For lengthy visits like an implant procedure, sedation dentistry may be an option for you. With sedation dentistry you are given sedation medication, usually orally with a pill or intravenously, which allows you to drift through the entire procedure without any memory of it afterward. If you decide on oral sedation, typically you take the medication about an hour before your procedure starts.

To avoid any complications, a complete medical background check is made along with a record of any allergies before any sedation is administered. Your vital signs are also monitored throughout the entire procedure.

If you decide sedation is not the right option for you, there are other techniques that you can benefit from. Some of these include:

  • Communication: This may seem obvious, but communicating any fears or anxiety you may have about your procedure with us is extremely helpful. Not only does this build a relationship of trust but it allows us to try and alleviate your anxiety as much as we can.
  • Herbal teas: Drink some herbal tea (like chamomile or lemon balm) before you visit the office. Many patients find this is a great help in relieving anxiety and putting them sufficiently at ease.
  • Relaxing music: Bring a pair of headphones along and listen to your favorite music during treatment (preferably something low-key). Or why not catch up on your reading when you visit us — some patients like to listen to audiobooks too!
  • Meditate or practice deep breathing: Meditation and deep breathing are good to practice in general, since they relax both the body and mind. They can be effective in the case of anxiety, too!

Fall’s in the Air? Think Fall Dental Care

October 7th, 2020

Whether you already miss the sun’s bright rays, or can’t wait for some cool, crisp weather and colorful leaves, summer is making way for fall. And the change of seasons might mean it’s time for some adjustments to your dental care routine.

Fall’s in the Air, and You Can Feel It

You might enjoy the brisk weather and the cool autumn breezes, but you’d enjoy fall much more without the tooth sensitivity that cold weather can bring. Sensitivity can be the sign of a cracked tooth, gum disease, or even something as simple as too-energetic brushing. If you’re experiencing sensitivity outdoors or with hot and cold foods, don’t give up your nature walks and hot cider! Give Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes a call, and we’ll get to the root of your problem.

Fall Sports

The baseball mitts, surfboards, and water skis have been retired for the year, but that won’t stop you from enjoying exercise and team sports. And while you’re keeping your body healthy, remember to keep your teeth and jaws healthy as well. A mouth guard is an essential piece of equipment for any autumn contact sport like football or soccer, and is also a good idea for biking, skateboarding, and other physical activities where a fall or a collision is a possibility.

Fall Feasts

‘Tis the season for sugary Halloween treats, bountiful Thanksgiving desserts, and those over-the-top holiday lattes. By all means, celebrate the season. And celebrate your dental health (and your overall health) as well by enjoying these treats in moderation.

Why not take this opportunity to explore some of autumn’s more nutritious seasonal offerings? Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, and apples are part of a fall harvest of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and other nutrients that help keep our teeth and gums their healthiest. (And if the pumpkins and apples make their way into pies, no one will complain.)

Fall Semester

Many schools require a dental exam before the start of the academic year. If you haven’t made an appointment for your child, now’s the time to do it! And don’t forget a professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar. Nothing starts a school year off better than entering the classroom with a bright, healthy smile.

And don’t forget to call our Middleton, WI office for your own regular checkup if it’s that time of year. Spring, summer, winter, fall—it’s always the right season for taking care of your dental health!

Does getting a dental implant hurt?

September 30th, 2020

Getting a dental implant is a surgical procedure and everyone’s pain tolerance level is different. Therefore, what one person may perceive as pain is only a slight discomfort for another person. The general consensus about pain and dental implants is that the majority of people feel discomfort, not pain.

A dental implant is a complex procedure. Let’s take a look at what may cause discomfort:

  • Some people may find that having the IV put in is uncomfortable, especially if the healthcare worker has to try more than once. If you have a fear of needles or if you have anxiety about the procedure, we can prescribe a sedative, which you take before you arrive.
  • Of course, during the dental implant surgery, you will be asleep. Therefore, you will not feel any pain or discomfort at all.
  • When you awake from the surgery, your mouth should still be numb. In many cases, we can give you a “block” – it is basically a 24-hour pain medication, so you will not feel any pain or discomfort at all.
  • We will also provide you with a prescription for a strong pain killer, and you will most likely sleep while you are taking them. If you are still in pain, do not take more than is prescribed without calling us first. You will need someone to stay with you for 24 hours after the surgery, and they will be instructed on how to give you any prescription medication. The anesthesia tends to make people a bit loopy and forgetful the first 24 hours.
  • After the first 24 hours you may feel some discomfort. The most important thing you can do is take your pain medication regularly, whether you are taking the prescription medication or an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol or Advil.
  • You should not need pain medication for more than the first few days.

Most people do say there mouth is sore and they have to be careful what they eat, so it’s best to stick to soft foods. If you have any additional questions, please contact our Middleton, WI office and speak with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes.

What can I expect during my implant procedure?

September 23rd, 2020

Dental implants are a surgical procedure done by Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes right here at our Middleton, WI office. Screw-like parts made of titanium are inserted into your jaw bone and act as the root of your tooth. An artificial tooth will be placed on top of the screw, usually made out of ceramic or layered porcelain. The dental implant will look and feel just like the natural tooth you lost.

How much time will the dental implant surgery take?

There are numerous factors that determine the length of time for the dental implant procedure:

  • If you’re having one tooth replaced or several
  • The teeth that are being replaced
  • If you need a tooth or teeth extracted before the implant placement
  • The amount of time it takes for your IV to be placed
  • Any last minute questions or concerns you may need addressed

All of the above factors will also govern the amount of visits to our Middleton, WI office you will need to make throughout your dental implant treatment period. For example, a single tooth dental implant surgery typically takes one to two hours from the time you arrive until you awaken from the anesthesia. This also includes the amount of time it takes to put on your gown, hair cap, and other surgical dressing preparations before you are able to enter the sterile surgical environment.

Does getting an implant hurt?

With nearly any surgical procedure, you will feel some sort of discomfort. Whether it is the insertion of the IV for the anesthesia, or discomfort you may feel after the surgery. However, most patients report that their pain was tolerable after their dental implant surgery. In fact, the majority of patients said the discomfort was a lot less than they expected. Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes will prescribe pain medications to help with any discomfort you may experience once you get home.

How will I feel after the dental implant treatment?

It is normal to have some bruising and swelling in the soft tissue and gum area. Usually the pain or discomfort does not require the use of anything more than an over-the-counter pain medication such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. In addition, you will have the prescription for a stronger pain medication if you need it. You should be able to work the following day.

How long do dental implants last?

September 16th, 2020

The average dental implant can last a lifetime if taken care of properly. In fact, studies have shown that the success rate of implants after ten years is about 90%! Of course, Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team know that the better you care for your implant, the longer it will last.

There are a few factors that must be taken into consideration, when you are considering dental implants. These factors all play a role in how long your dental implants will last.

  • Bone Structure – You must have enough bone in your mouth for the implants to be inserted. Over time, the bone can wear down and become too thin or to short. In cases, where you may have just enough bone for the implants, over the years, the bone will continue to become smaller and thinner and the implants will not last nearly as long as the suggested minimum of ten years.
  • Healthy Gums – Diseased gums will not support dental implants for very long. It is important to maintain regular dental visits to maintain your healthy gums.
  • Good Oral Hygiene – Just because your implants are not your “real” teeth, doesn’t mean you have to take care of them. That means brushing, flossing, and regular professional cleanings.

Bone structure, healthy gums, and good oral hygiene all play a crucial role in the length of time your dental implants will last. Whether you have full dental implants, partial implants, or a single tooth implant. The bottom line is you have to take care of them if you want them to last as long as possible.

For more tips on how to maintain the health of your dental implant, visit our Middleton, WI office!

Dental Implants vs. Natural Teeth

September 9th, 2020

If you're considering getting an implant, you'll most certainly have questions for Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes. You might be wondering how a dental implant compares to a real tooth. Let's look at some of the differences between implants and natural teeth.

It should be noted that one of the primary goals of implant dentistry is to try to provide the same form and function as your natural teeth. However, with that in mind, know that an implant is not a tooth. An implant does not decay and does not have dental pulp or periodontal membrane like teeth.

An implant won't always work in every case, but they do have some great advantages when they are called for. Some advantages of an implant:

  • Often last for decades without needing to be replaced
  • Create a functional and aesthetically pleasing replacement for your missing tooth
  • Don't require surrounding teeth for support
  • Do not decay like natural teeth
  • Can be fixed or removable
  • Are able to replace single tooth or multiple teeth

There are downsides to implants where natural teeth win out. The disadvantages of implants include:

  • Higher cost compared to traditional dentistry
  • It's a surgical procedure which requires a period of healing afterward
  • Fracturing of fixtures and loosening of screws can occur (only in about 5% of patients)
  • Since there is no cushion between the implant and the bone, fracturing of crowns and bridges is more common with implants than with natural teeth, though this is rare.

It's best to speak with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes about your options regarding implants. Let us know what you want to achieve and we'll work with you as best we can to accomplish that. And don't hesitate to contact our Middleton, WI office for further questions about the procedure.

Timing Matters!

August 26th, 2020

Many patients at Hartjes Dental Associates are under the impression that harder brushing leads to cleaner teeth, but that is not true. Gentle brushing is just as effective, and less likely to cause damage. Other good brushing habits include brushing your teeth at least twice a day, replacing your toothbrush after a few months, and brushing for at least two minutes each time. It can be tough to keep track of the time when you are aiming for two minutes, but these tips can help.

Set a Timer

Setting a timer is a sure-fire way to hit your two-minute goal on the dot. Leave a kitchen timer in your bathroom so that it is easy to set each time you start brushing your teeth. Hit each surface of all of your top and bottom teeth, and keep brushing until the timer rings. Many electric toothbrushes have a built-in timer that you can use instead of a kitchen timer.

Entertain Yourself for Two Minutes

Time flies when you are having fun, and you can stay entertained as you brush your teeth for two minutes. These are some ideas.

  • Time your favorite song and sing it in your head as you brush your teeth.
  • Find a two-minute video on the Internet that you want to watch, and start it when you begin to brush your teeth.
  • Do squats in the bathroom as you brush. Go down for three slow counts, and up for three slow counts. By the time you get to 20 squats, your two minutes will be over.

Let Your Children Use Technology

Toothsavers is an app designed to inspire children to brush. The app was developed and released by the Ad Council and the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives. It includes:

  • A game to fight an evil sorceress who causes cavities
  • A two-player version that lets children interact with friends and parents
  • Real-life reminders to brush twice a day
  • A built-in timer that helps kids brush for two minutes

Are dental implants painful? What You Need to Know

August 12th, 2020

Whether it is the result of tooth decay, gum disease, or injury, millions of people suffer tooth loss. Dental implants provide a strong replacement tooth root for fixed replacement teeth that are designed to match your natural teeth. Of course, there is one question all patients have about dental implants: are they painful?

Dental implant placement is performed under local or general anesthesia and is not considered a painful procedure. However, if the surgery is more complicated and involves bone or tissue grafts, there may be slightly more discomfort and swelling. At the same time, every patient has a different threshold for pain, so what may bother one person may not bother another. If you experience any pain from dental implants, there are several things can do to relive it.

Relieving Pain from Dental Implants

1. The initial healing phase can last up to seven to ten days. Over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and Motrin work well to alleviate any pain or discomfort you may experience. However, only take these if instructed to by Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes.

2. Once you leave our Middleton, WI office, you can reduce inflammation and any swelling to your cheek or lip by holding an ice-pack on your face over the implant area.

3. Your gum will be tender for the first few days. We often recommended that you bathe your gums with warm salt water.

4. Steer clear of crusty or hard foods for the first day or two. Ice cream, yogurt, and other soft foods are ideal as your gums will be tender.

5. Dental implants are a relatively straightforward oral procedure. Many people take time off from work to have dental implant surgery, and then return to regular activities. However, if you are feeling any pain or discomfort, there is nothing wrong with taking the day off, relaxing, and putting your feet up.

There is typically no severe post-operative pain with dental implants. When most people return for a follow-up appointment about two weeks later, they often say that getting a dental implant was one of the least painful procedures they’ve experienced.

Fewer Adults are Visiting the Dentist

August 5th, 2020

Our team at Hartjes Dental Associates recently learned that in the decade between 2000 and 2010, the amount of adults who regularly visited their dentist declined, according to research released by the American Dental Association's Health Policy Resources Center (HPRC). In fact, the HPRC found that the percentage of adults who had regular checkups every six months declined from 41 percent in 2003 to 37 percent in 2010. The largest decline in dental care occurred in the 35- to 49-year-old age group. That’s down from 43 percent in 2003 to just 38 percent in 2010.

There is some good news, however. While adult visits may have decreased, children's visits were on the rise, particularly among low-income families. More low-income children are visiting the dentist now than they were ten years ago. And the HPRC notes that between 2000 and 2010, dental visits among low-income children increased in 47 states.

Have you ever wondered why the American Dental Association and Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes recommend that you come in for a dental checkup and cleaning every six months? While daily oral hygiene habits are essential to good oral health, professional dental cleanings at Hartjes Dental Associates ensure your and your child’s teeth are treated to a deeper level of cleaning. In addition to a thorough cleaning and teeth polishing, regular visits at our Middleton, WI office help us detect and prevent the onset of tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. During your visit, we’ll check the health of your mouth, teeth, gums, cheeks, and tongue for symptoms of any oral disease. We will also check old fillings and restorations, as these can wear away over time from constant chewing, clenching, or grinding at night.

If you are predisposed to oral diseases due to age, pregnancy, tobacco use, or medical conditions such as diabetes or dry mouth, Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes may recommend you visit our office more often than every six months.

If you are overdue for your next checkup and cleaning, please give us a call to schedule an appointment!

Why is replacing missing teeth important?

July 29th, 2020

When we talk about teeth, every single one of yours counts. Whether you’ve lost a tooth due to injury or poor oral hygiene, it’s worth seeing Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes to evaluate all your replacement options. If you don’t, you could suffer negative effects to your teeth, gums, jawbones, appearance, and self-esteem.

Depending on how many teeth are missing and where they are located, Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes may suggest an implant, fixed bridge, or a removable bridge.

Addressing missing teeth as soon as possible is in your best interests. If you don't, the consequences might include:

  • Shifting teeth: When you lose a tooth, the space it creates allows the neighboring teeth to drift and move out of alignment. A once-straight smile and correct bite can quickly turn into crooked teeth and a misaligned bite.
  • Tooth decay and/or gum disease: After teeth have shifted, it can be harder to reach all areas around them to brush and floss properly. The buildup of bacteria and plaque can result in periodontal disease and the loss of your remaining teeth due to decay.
  • Effect on jaws: Missing teeth alter your bite and how your teeth and jaws contact one another. This puts added strain on your jaw joint (TMJ) and can contribute to the development of TMJ disorder.
  • Change in face and appearance: When you lose a tooth, your gums and your jawbone are no longer stimulated in that area. A dental implant replaces the root of a tooth or several teeth, and provides stimulation to prevent bone loss. If the root isn’t replaced, this can lead to deterioration of the jawbone and alteration of the shape and appearance of your face. Your face, especially the cheeks, can look older and more sunken.

Replacing missing teeth is an essential step for your physical and emotional health. If they are replaced in a timely manner at our Middleton, WI office, you’ll continue to have the same wonderful smile you’ve always had.

Can my body reject my dental implant?

July 22nd, 2020

According to the International Congress of Oral Implantologists it is rare that your body will reject your dental implants. However, this does not mean that your dental implant will not fail. A successful dental implant is one that is placed in healthy bone and is properly cared for after the surgery takes place.

There is only one major reason why a dental implant would be rejected: a titanium allergy. The majority of dental implants are made with titanium because it has proven to be the most biologically compatible of all metals. On average, less than one percent of potential dental implant recipients reported an allergy to titanium.

Dental Implant Failure

The most common cause of dental implant failure in the upper and lower jaw is bacteria. Everyone has bacteria in their mouth. If you have bacteria in your jawbone at the time of your dental implant, it can spread from implant to implant, causing dental implant failure.

If you do not take proper care of your dental implants, that could also cause them to fail. You also have to take proper care of the implant and keep your mouth clean. The development of excessive bacteria around the implant and in surrounding tissues can lead to implant failure.

Teeth grinding is another reason dental implants fail. When you grind your teeth, it can move the implants out of position. Therefore, you should wear a mouthpiece when you go to sleep if you know you grind or clench.

If you take care of your implants by practicing good oral hygiene and visit our Middleton, WI office, you should not have any problems with your new dental implants. As always, ask Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes about any questions or concerns you have about you dental implants.

Keeping Our Teeth Healthy as We Age

July 15th, 2020

Decades ago, it was just expected that getting older meant losing teeth. But today’s dental practices and treatments help us defy expectations. How can we keep our teeth healthy as we age? Here are some great habits to continue or begin at any time of life:

  • Brush and Floss Regularly

Brushing and flossing two minutes carefully twice a day is a habit we should never break. If using a manual toothbrush has become difficult, an electric model might be just what you need. We also have many suggestions if you have mobility or other issues, so please talk to Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes about making regular dental hygiene as comfortable and effective as possible.

  • Keep Up with Exams and Cleanings

As we age, gum recession is common. This recession leaves the root areas of our teeth more exposed, and more vulnerable to cavities. Also, old fillings can break or loosen, and cavities can develop around their edges. Keeping a regular schedule of exams and cleanings at our Middleton, WI office helps us discover any problems before they become serious.

  • Let Us Know about Changes in Your Health and Medications

If you are taking certain medications, you are at risk for developing a condition called dry mouth, where saliva production greatly decreases. Since saliva washes away the food particles that fuel bacteria growth, reduces acidic elements in the mouth that weaken enamel, and helps fight diseases, dry mouth sets the stage for increased chances of cavities and gum disease. If you are experiencing this condition, we have suggestions for hydration, dental rinses, and sugarless gums that can help.

  • Prevent Gum Disease

Regular brushing, professional cleanings, and routine check-ups are the best way to keep your gums healthy. Since untreated gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in older adults, call us if you have any symptoms such as puffy, red, or swollen gums, bleeding, or persistent bad breath. We can treat periodontitis at any stage, but prevention is always best.

  • Don’t Smoke

Studies show a link between smoking and the health of our teeth and gums, as well as a much greater risk of oral cancer. It is never too late to stop smoking! We have suggestions on ways to quit—please let us provide them.

Feel free to talk to us about any concerns you might have. With proper dental care, your teeth can last a lifetime. And that’s a great expectation!

Invisalign Teen® Benefits

July 8th, 2020

You can probably see how teeth straightening can make your smile more attractive, but you might be wary of how Invisalign Teen treatment works. If you’re like most teens at our Middleton, WI office, you love hanging out with your friends, and you don’t want to be different, watch what you eat, or worry about how you look. Invisalign Teen has several benefits over traditional metal braces that can make your treatment easier.

People won’t know you’re wearing them.

Invisalign Teen consists of clear trays that are virtual impossible for others to see. Chances are, the only people who know that you are getting your teeth straightened will be your family and any of your friends whom you choose to tell. You won’t need to answer to “Tinsel Teeth” and “Metal Mouth” as some of your classmates with metal braces do.

You can eat what your friends eat.

You take your Invisalign Teen aligners out of your mouth for meals and snacks, so you can eat just like you normally would. You don’t need to worry about food getting stuck in your braces or leading to a bracket popping off. Unlike with braces, you can enjoy the following foods with your friends during Invisalign Teen straightening treatment:

  • Popcorn at the movies
  • Trail mix with dried fruit when you’re hanging out together
  • Ribs and chicken wings at a party
  • Eating a peanut butter sandwich, apple, and carrot sticks for lunch

You can take care of your teeth more easily.

It would be a shame if you took the trouble to straighten your teeth and then found out that you had developed tooth decay while wearing braces. This is less of a problem with Invisalign Teen aligners because they are removable. You can brush and floss your teeth as normal just by taking the trays out of your mouth.

Getting straighter teeth can be a serious confidence-booster in the long run, and with Invisalign Teen, the treatment isn’t that bad. You can wear these clear aligners without letting people know that you’re straightening your teeth, and they won’t interfere with your diet or dental hygiene.

Summer Dental Health? Get into the Swim of It!

July 1st, 2020

On a sizzling hot day, there’s not much that makes us happier than heading to the water for a quick swim, some gentle laps, or even a rousing game of water polo. And this being a sizzling hot dental blog, we are happy to offer some tips on how to make your summer swim good for your dental health as well as your mental health!

  • Mouthguards

You might use your mouthguard all the time—for biking, or basketball, or skiing. But in the pool? Absolutely! Anyone who has played water polo knows what a physical workout it is. Elbows! Hard tosses! Collisions! And it’s not just pool sports. Water-skiing on the lake, surfing in the ocean—anywhere humans and solid objects are involved, tooth and jaw injuries are possible. Don’t spend valuable summer hours tending to a cracked or broken tooth as a result of sports accidents.

And, unlikely though it seems, even hanging by the pool can be hazardous to your smile. Hard concrete edges wait to greet surfacing divers. Slippery cement and tiles surrounding the pool are the downfall of many a swimmer running to jump back into the water. Be aware of possible dental dangers, and use a mouthguard as a great proactive way to avoid them.

  • Swimming Pools & Chlorine

Ah, the smell of chlorine! We all want to know that swimming pools are as clean as they can be, and one method of keeping them that way is with the addition of antimicrobials to the water. But too much exposure to chemicals can cause enamel erosion, or even a condition called “swimmer’s calculus.” Swimmer’s calculus is recognized by a hard, brownish, tartar deposit that appears on the front teeth of swimmers who spent a lot of hours in the pool. It’s a cosmetic problem, but one that’s difficult to get rid of without a professional cleaning. If you’re a competitive swimmer, or simply someone who spends many hours a week in treated water, give us a call if you notice hard-to-remove discoloration or tooth sensitivity.

  • Retainers

Different people have different opinions on whether or not your retainer should be exposed to the chlorine in pool water. (Or the salt in saltwater or the bacteria in lake water.) Ask us for ours! But you’re best off leaving it in your bag or locker, anyway, because retainers can be easily lost in the water. They might be able to survive a swimming pool, but a lake or ocean rescue is very unlikely. Just remember to put your retainer in a case, in a safe spot, and replace it when you’re out of the water for the day.

Enjoy your time on the water, and don’t forget to schedule an exam with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and a professional cleaning if you haven’t been in the office for a while. If you do have a dental problem or an accident, give our Middleton, WI office a call immediately. We want to make sure you dive in to summer fun with a healthy, beautiful smile!

Does the placement of implants hurt?

June 24th, 2020

If you're scheduled to get a dental implant, it's only natural to have questions about it. The pain involved is usually on the mind of most patients. Of course, some discomfort is possible, as with any major dental procedure. Having a well-defined plan ahead of time, which is carried out by Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes, reduces the risk of complications or side effects post-surgery.

During the procedure you won't feel a thing, since it is performed under general or local anesthesia that totally numbs your mouth. It's more likely that you will feel some pain or discomfort after the anesthesia has worn off.

There are usually three things that will affect the length and intensity of any discomfort:

  • The complexity of your surgery (for example if you need a bone graft or sinus lift beforehand)
  • How well-trained the dental team which works on your case is (it may be multiple people, including a periodontist, oral surgeon, and/or general dentist)
  • How quickly your body is able to heal itself post-surgery

The pain experienced from an untreated case will usually far outweigh that experienced from a dental implant. Good oral hygiene after your surgery is important to avoid infection. Salt water rinses are generally recommended 24 hours after your surgery. Brush your teeth gently around the implant.

It's also a good idea not to eat any food that is too hot, cold, or hard. Soft or pureed foods will help you to avoid chewing for the first few days after surgery and will help your mouth to heal faster. You'll typically be prescribed pain medication, but some patients find that ibuprofen or acetaminophen work well enough. Just remember, the most severe discomfort is usually experienced within the six hours after your anesthesia wears off.

Getting a dental implant is a big decision, and we want to make sure you get through it easily. Our Middleton, WI team is here to help if you have any questions about the procedure or post-surgery care.

The Benefits of a Bright Smile

June 17th, 2020

Having a nice, bright smile can affect the way you look, and in turn, improve how you feel about yourself. With the help of Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes to provide you with a whitening treatment, you won’t have to be afraid to show your smile any longer.

It’s been shown that the first thing people typically notice is a person’s smile. Though many people don’t like to admit it, humans often judge others first on their looks.

Over time, your teeth may become stained from foods and beverages. Teeth-whitening techniques can be an effective solution to restore confidence in your smile and your life. Our team is here to help you regain your smile with brightened teeth that have been affected by wear.

Your smile can affect:

  • Personal and work-related relationships
  • Job interviews and meetings
  • Success dealing with customers and potential clients
  • Your confidence and general happiness
  • Overall outlook on daily interactions

Regaining confidence in your smile can be helpful in all these areas of your life and more. If you think your smile has been holding you back, it may be beneficial to restore your white teeth with the help of Hartjes Dental Associates.

If you’re interested in enhancing your smile, feel free to reach out to our Middleton, WI office and we will be happy to go over the whitening options we provide.

What are the advantages of dental implants?

June 10th, 2020

Losing a tooth can affect a lot more than just the look of your smile. Missing teeth affect your ability to chew and can also cause problems for your other teeth. It is essential to replace missing teeth in order to maintain oral health as well as your overall well-being. Dental implants are an excellent option to replace your natural tooth and its root without affecting your neighboring teeth, and are available from Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes.

Why choose dental implants?

There are many reasons to choose dental implants to replace your lost or damaged teeth. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, dental implants are often considered more predictable than other treatment options and are known to provide long-term successful outcomes.

Dental implants provide many benefits over other treatments such as bridgework and dentures:

  • Unlike other treatment options for missing teeth, dental implants allow Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes to replace your tooth without impacting the healthy teeth surrounding the space.
  • Dental implants also protect healthy bone by preventing potential bone loss and deterioration in the jaw.
  • This treatment option allows you to speak and eat normally without worrying about slippery or uncomfortable removable dentures.
  • The closest thing to natural teeth, dental implants allow you to maintain your smile and natural face shape.
  • These implants are built to last, providing you with a long-term solution to missing teeth.

Overall, dental implants are the next best thing to natural, healthy teeth. Choosing to undergo surgery to replace your lost or damaged teeth is an important decision. To avoid the issues caused by lost teeth, consult Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes or visit our Middleton, WI office to see if you are a candidate for dental implants.

Water Features

June 3rd, 2020

Heading for the beach! Hiking to the lake! Keeping cool with a tall, frosty glass of ice water in a foreign bistro, or taking a refreshing gulp from the fountain in the park! Hot weather has arrived, and water is something we’re more conscious of now than most other times of the year. Even so, water as a dental feature? Glad you asked!

  • Recreation

Whether you want to bask in the heat or escape it, heading out for a day in or on the water works. And while you’re protecting your skin with sunscreen, think about protecting your teeth and mouth as well. With one small slip, any physical water sport—water skiing, water polo, surfing—can result in damage to your teeth or jaw. Bring—and use—the mouthguard you wear for sports like basketball or biking, and make sure you have a summer of smiles ahead of you.

  • Refreshment

Summer has a beverage menu all its own. Iced coffee and iced tea, a cooler full of sodas, fresh lemonade, fruity cocktails—so many refreshing ways to beat the heat! And we would never suggest that you turn down every frosty summer temptation. But do be mindful that dark beverages like tea, coffee, and sodas can stain teeth, sugary and acidic ones are damaging to your enamel, and alcoholic drinks can be dehydrating. Water, on the other hand, is always a healthy choice. It’s helpful for keeping your mouth and teeth clean, it often contains the fluoride that helps fight cavities, it’s hydrating—and, it has no calories! Be sure to make water a significant part of your summer beverage menu, and your body will thank you for it.

  • Rinse & Restore

Water’s importance to our bodies can’t be overstated! From major organs to individual cells, we need water. And one major benefit of proper hydration is healthy saliva production. Why is that important? Saliva plays a vital role in preventing cavities. It washes away the food particles that oral bacteria feed on, reducing their ability to produce the acids that lead to enamel erosion and cavities. Saliva even helps neutralize acids already in the mouth. Finally, saliva contains important calcium, phosphate and fluoride ions which actually help restore enamel strength after it has been exposed to oral acidity.

Summer goes by all too quickly. Protect your teeth during these warm, active months with a mouthguard. And whether you spend your free time outdoors, or visiting people and places, or keeping cool at home, be mindful of dental-friendly beverage options and always stay hydrated. You’ll be ready to greet fall with a beautiful smile and healthy teeth. “Water Features”? Perhaps a better title would be “Water Power”!

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

May 27th, 2020

Toothaches in children can be tricky ordeals that cause distress for both the child and the parent. You may feel helpless and frustrated because you cannot pinpoint the location of the pain. It is so hard to see your little one experience discomfort and feel like there is nothing you can do about it. But there are ways you can help. Try these tips the next time your child has a toothache.

Zero in on the Painful Area

The first thing you need to do is find out where the pain is coming from. If your child is old enough, ask him or her to point to the painful area. In younger children, look for swelling and redness on the gums and cheek, dental caries (discolorations on the tooth), or broken teeth. Try to get as close to the location of the pain as possible so you can determine an effective course of action to relieve it.

Try to Find the Cause

Not all toothaches are actually toothaches. A child can bite his or her tongue or cheek, have sore gums, or develop ulcers in the mouth. Teeth that are coming in can also be quite painful. If a tooth is discolored, broken, loose, or has spots that are either darker or lighter than the rest of the tooth, those could be causes of pain.

Five-Step Approach to Dental Pain Relief

  1. Floss. Help your child floss to remove any food particles that may be wedged between the teeth and could be causing pain.
  2. Rinse with warm salt water. Use a warm salt-water solution and have your child rinse well by swishing or holding the salt water over the painful area.
  3. Use a cold compress. This can relieve pain and swelling. If there is no swelling, you can try it anyway to subdue the pain. Try it on for about 15 minutes, then off for 20.
  4. Give the child ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Use the appropriate dosage for your child’s age and administer it regularly as directed.
  5. See Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes. If you determine that the tooth or gum is damaged, or if the pain simply cannot be relieved, call our Middleton, WI office.

If your child is experiencing throbbing pain, fatigue, or fever, you should call your pediatrician as soon as possible. If your child is experiencing mouth pain accompanied by trouble breathing or swallowing, it can indicate a more serious situation and you should take your son or daughter to the emergency room.

Most mouth pain in children can be remedied with the simple steps here. The important thing is that you remain calm, no matter what. You child is taking cues from you and if you panic, he or she will panic.

Invisalign Teen®: What Parents Should Know

May 20th, 2020

Parents want the best for their teens and often ask us about the perks of Invisalign Teen clear aligners compared to traditional braces. Invisalign treatment is a style of braces that skips the usual metal and wires, and uses a clear, thermoplastic material to create removable aligners instead.

Aligners are custom-made for each patient and replaced every two weeks to attain gradually straighter teeth.

Is Invisalign treatment as effective?

As long as your child wears the aligners as directed, the answer is yes: they are just as effective as traditional braces. A small blue spot on the back of each aligner will fade after two weeks of proper wear. This enables Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes to tell whether the child is wearing the aligners.

Can Invisalign aligners be removed?

The recommended amount of time to wear Invisalign aligners is at least 20 hours a day. They can be removed for up to four hours per day to eat, brush teeth, play sports, or play musical instruments. This makes brushing and flossing easier and helps maintain good oral hygiene!

How long does treatment take and what is the cost?

Each patient is different. Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes can determine how many months your child may expect to wear the series of aligners after a consultation.

Typically, your teen will wear Invisalign clear aligners about as long as traditional braces The cost is also similar to that of other traditional braces; however, there is no set fee. The cost will depend on your child’s unique orthodontic needs.

Overall Success

Invisalign Teen treatment has had remarkable success, and patients love having straighter teeth without the embarrassment of metal braces. As your son or daughter becomes more confident, the patient will actually be more likely to keep up with the treatment and complete it sooner.

Speak with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes today to learn more about the benefits of Invisalign Teen treatment. Give our Middleton, WI office a call!

 

Ask Us About Invisalign Teen® Treatment!

May 13th, 2020

We know that being a teen is hard, and we know that adding braces to the mix can often elicit a less-than-enthusiastic response. Luckily, teens can now have straighter teeth without the hassle, discomfort, and embarrassment of metal braces!

Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes proudly offer Invisalign Teen clear aligners to our adolescent patients.

One of the main benefits of Invisalign Teen aligners is that they are virtually invisible. They are also removable, which means teen patients are free to eat anything they choose. The aligners are also easily replaceable, should they ever get lost! The best part? They make it easy to keep up with a healthy brushing and flossing routine. 

The aligners are made from a lightweight, plastic material that fits precisely on the teeth. Invisalign Teen treatment has become a popular treatment here at Middleton, WI because it helps our younger patients achieve a straight, beautiful smile without undergoing the dreaded metal-mouth.

For more information on Invisalign Teen clear aligners, please feel free to give us a call at our Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes office today!

What are mini implants used for?

May 6th, 2020

The use of mini dental implants (MDIs) is on the rise. MDIs are about the diameter of a toothpick (1.8 to 2.9 millimeters with lengths between ten to 18 millimeters) and are primarily used to secure loose upper or lower dentures or partial dentures.

MDIs are particularly useful for patients who suffer from osteoporosis or otherwise aren't well enough to get the bone grafts sometimes required by traditional dental implants. Their diminutive size also allows them to replace smaller teeth where the placement of a dental implant isn't feasible or called for.

Some of the benefits of MDIs include:

  • The procedure is quicker and less invasive – Since MDIs don’t require the cutting of gum tissue or sutures, Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes can place the implant quickly, resulting in a shorter healing process. MDIs go directly through the gum tissue and into the jawbone.
  • Lower cost – MDIs run in the range of $500 to $1500, whereas traditional dental implants can cost around $4,000.
  • Less risk of surgical error – Since MDIs don't go as deep into the tissue or jawbone, there is less risk of surgical error, like hitting a nerve or sinus cavity.
  • Can be used in thinner areas of the jawbone – Since MDIs don't require as much gum tissue or jawbone, they can be used in thinner areas of the jawbone, where a traditional dental implant would require a bone graft.

Although there are many advantages to MDIs, they aren't for everyone or every situation. There are some drawbacks, especially when it comes to their durability and stability. MDIs also haven't been studied nearly as much as dental implants.

Whatever your situation, it's best to speak with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes about your options, and whether an MDI or a dental implant would work best for your specific case. Schedule an appointment at our Middleton, WI office to learn more.

What is gum recession?

April 29th, 2020

Gum (gingival) recession occurs when gums recede from the tops of the teeth enough to expose sensitive roots. People typically experience increased sensitivity to sugary or cold foods when gums no longer cover and protect teeth roots. In addition, untreated gum recession may lead to loosening of teeth and accelerated tooth decay, something Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes see all too often.

Causes of Gum Recession

  • Periodontal disease – a serious oral disease arising from poor oral habits
  • Gingivitis – gum disease characterized by bleeding and swollen gums
  • Aging
  • Overly aggressive brushing and/or flossing – brushing hard in a scrubbing fashion will erode gum tissue at the roots of teeth
  • Genetic predisposition to gingival recession – having inherited thin, insufficient gum tissue facilitates gum recession
  • Bruxism – a condition where someone regularly grinds their teeth, usually during sleep
  • Chewing tobacco/smoking – promotes chronically dry mouth and reduced gum health

Periodontal gingivitis may also cause causing drooping of the gums instead of gum recession. A gingivectomy removes excess gum tissue weakened by bacterial decay while a gingivoplasty can reshape gums around the teeth. If sagging or receding gums are left untreated, they may develop pockets (gaps) that provide hiding places for food particles, mucus and other mouth debris conducive to anaerobic bacteria growth. As the most destructive type of oral bacteria, anaerobic bacteria is responsible for tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and chronic halitosis.

Treatments for Gum Recession

Corrective actions need implemented as soon as possible to reverse gum recession by addressing the cause. For example, people who brush with hard-bristled toothbrushes should switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush more gently. If gum recession is the result of poor oral hygiene, improve oral hygiene habits by brushing after meals, flossing, rinsing with non-alcoholic mouthwash, and getting dental checkups and cleanings every six months. For severe cases of gum recession, soft tissue grafts can add gum tissue to exposed roots by removing tissue from the person's palate and attaching it to existing gums at the area of recession via laser surgery.

If you’re worried about gum recession, visit our Middleton, WI office and talk to a member of our team.

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

April 22nd, 2020

Some patients may require nitrous oxide to remove pain or anxiety during dental treatments. If you desire any form of dental treatment at our Middleton, WI office, Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes may administer nitrous oxide for its anesthetic/analgesic properties.

Commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a gaseous sedative that’s inhaled through a mask over the nose. It was first used in the mid 1800s when practitioners didn’t know they should mix oxygen with the nitrous oxide, which wasn’t healthy alone.

These days, nitrous oxide is administered with at least a 30% oxygen mix, which makes it safe for any dental care.

Some of the effects you may experience while you’re sedated include:

  • Lightheadedness, and tingling in the arms and legs, followed by a warm or comforting sensation
  • A euphoric feeling or a sensation that you are floating
  • Inability to keep your eyes open, so it feels as if you’re asleep

The percentage of nitrous oxide can be easily adjusted if necessary. Let Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes know right away if you feel uncomfortable or sick. The effects wear off quickly after you begin to breathe regular air following your treatment.

If you still have concerns about nitrous oxide, feel free to call our office about it. Our staff can go over other options for sedation and select the best one for you.

Losing a Baby Tooth

April 15th, 2020

It seems like yesterday. There you were, comforting your baby through sleepless nights, soothing her with a dentist-approved teether, celebrating as that first tiny tooth poked through her gums. And now here she is running to show you that same tooth, wiggly, loose, and almost ready for the Tooth Fairy. Now what?

Be Prepared

Children normally lose that first tooth somewhere around the age of six, but a year or two earlier or later is not uncommon. If you ever took a business class, you might have heard of the inventory method called “First In, First Out.” Baby teeth operate much the same way! The two bottom front teeth, followed by the two upper front teeth, will probably be the first teeth your child loses. Once you notice some wiggling, let your child know what is going on and reassure her that it is a normal part of growing up.

What to Expect with that First Loose Tooth

Normally, baby teeth become loose when the pressure from the permanent tooth below gradually breaks down the roots of the primary tooth. If your child has a loose tooth, encourage him to wiggle, not pull. Typically, gentle wiggling is all that is needed to free a tooth that has lost most of its root and is ready to be replaced. Avoid pulling or forcing the tooth, because that can cause injury to the root area if the baby tooth isn’t ready to come out. Call our Middleton, WI office if you have any questions about loose teeth. Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team also have suggestions if the baby teeth don’t become loose on schedule, or if they stubbornly remain in place even after the adult teeth have started to show up. One important note—if your child ever loses a tooth through accident or injury, call us at once. We might need to provide a spacer to give your child’s permanent teeth the proper time and space to come in.

Celebrate this Milestone with Your Child

The arrival of the Tooth Fairy is a familiar way to mark the occasion, and she can leave your child a note, a small gift, even a brand new toothbrush. Or explore other options!

If your child is fascinated by stories and traditions, learn about El Ratón Pérez (Perez the Mouse), a familiar tooth-collector in many Spanish speaking countries, or his French cousin, La Petite Souris (the Little Mouse). In other parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, children throw teeth on the roof, drop them in a glass of water, or hide them in a slipper. This is a great opportunity for you and your child to explore the world!

If your child likes science, look into books that explain the biology of baby and adult teeth in an age-appropriate way. You could print a chart of the primary teeth and take notes on each lost tooth as it makes way for the permanent tooth below. Or track her progress with photos showing the baby tooth, the gap left by the tooth, and the adult tooth as it comes in.

Losing that first tooth is an important moment for your child—and for you. Be prepared to celebrate another milestone together, and always feel free to talk to Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes if you have any questions about this new stage in your child’s life.

Zirconia Dental Implants

April 8th, 2020

Since dental implants first started being implemented in the 1980s, they have been primarily made of titanium. Recent advances in implant technology have allowed dental implant manufacturers to shift from all-metal implants, to part-metal and part-ceramic implants, to the newer all-ceramic or zirconia implants.

Zirconia implants are made of high-impact resistant ceramic called tetragonal zirconia polycrystal (ZrO2+Y2O3). They remedy many of the issues and complaints doctors and patients have with traditional metal implants and have several advantages—let’s take a look at some of them.

Advantages of Zirconia Implants

  • Do not cause allergic reactions – Although titanium is considered non-toxic, some people still have allergic reactions to titanium. Zirconia implants are inert, non-corrosive, and hypoallergenic.
  • Have been used for decades in medical applications – Millions of patients have had zirconia used safely and effectively as the base material for their hip replacements. The zirconia used for medical applications also undergoes strict radiation monitoring to ensure its safety for use within the body.
  • They are incredibly strong – Unlike titanium implants, zirconia offers a much higher degree of resistance to scratching, corrosion, and fracture. The aerospace industry even uses zirconia (ZrO2) due to its high resistance to heat and fracture. This all means a safer and more aesthetically pleasing result for the patient.
  • One-piece design is more hygienic – Zirconia implants are a one-piece design, meaning there is nowhere for bacteria to build up or liquids to penetrate like with titanium implants. They are highly biocompatible (how a material reacts with the human body) which leads to healthier gums and no risk of corrosion.
  • Implant margin is at gum not bone level – With titanium implants the margin (or gap between the implant and the tooth) is at bone level, which can lead to bacterial buildup since you can’t brush there. The zirconia implant margin, which is at gum level, allows you to brush and clean your implant and restoration regularly.

If you are in need of a restorative dental implant, it would be wise to consider zirconia due to its many advantages. It might not work in every situation, but feel free to discuss your options with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes or one of our Middleton, WI staff members.

Dental Anxiety: Nitrous Oxide

April 1st, 2020

Dental anxiety is a very common experience: people postpone checkups, live with tooth pain, or suffer anxiety all through each appointment. Knowing that you share this problem with many others might be comforting, but it isn’t very helpful. If you suffer from mild to moderate anxiety, talk to Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes! Nitrous oxide sedation might be the answer.

  • What is nitrous oxide?

Often referred to as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide has been used since the 1800’s in dental procedures. Today, it is a safe and common form of inhalation sedation, and we are trained in its uses and administration. Our equipment is designed to provide a precise mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen gases inhaled through a face mask that you will wear throughout the procedure. Just breathe normally, and you will feel calmer within minutes.

  • Relaxed and Aware

Nitrous oxide provides the lightest form of dental sedation. This type of anesthesia is called “conscious sedation” because you will remain awake, relaxed, and able to respond to instructions. We can control the timing of the sedation easily, as it takes effect right away and leaves your system quickly when you stop inhaling the gas. We can also control the level of sedation as needed, so it will not wear off during longer procedures.

  • Convenient Recovery Time

One of the biggest advantages of choosing nitrous oxide sedation is its remarkably quick recovery time. With pills or IV sedation, you might need several hours before and after the procedure both to allow these sedatives to take effect and for recovery time when you’re done. You should also have someone available to drive you to and from the appointment. Nitrous oxide, on the other hand, is used only at the time of the procedure and begins leaving your system as soon as you finish inhaling it. You will be able to resume your normal activities almost immediately.

We believe your dental experience should be as relaxing and stress-free as possible. Talk to us about the types of dental sedation available at our Middleton, WI office, and we will work with you to decide on the best possible option. If you have mild to moderate levels of anxiety, wish to remain awake and relaxed throughout your visit, and want a brief recovery time from sedation, nitrous oxide could be the ideal sedation choice for you.

Is Invisalign Teen® right for my child?

March 4th, 2020

Straightening your teeth with traditional braces used to be something of a public affair. While traditional teeth-straightening methods yielded high-quality results, it was also essentially impossible to wear them undetected as you went about your day. The visibility of braces could be especially troubling to teens in the high-stress environment of high school and even during the early years of college.

With Invisalign Teen, Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes and our team at Hartjes Dental Associates will tell you that many of those concerns are no longer as relevant as they once were. Because Invisalign Teen aligners are constructed out of a plastic that is both smooth and clear, in all likelihood friends and family members won’t even realize the teen is wearing them. The smooth and clear plastic also makes the aligners much more comfortable than traditional braces, which means the teenaged user won’t have to deal with something large and obstructive in his or her mouth.

Additionally, the Invisalign Teen aligners are specifically made to be removable when the need arises. Your son or daughter won’t have to worry about getting food stuck in the alignment trays because they can be pulled out before a meal and popped back in afterwards. Invisalign Teen wearers can remove the aligners before brushing, which allows them to make sure their teeth are free and clear of all obstructions.

Invisalign Teen aligners also allow wearers to keep doing all the activities they have previously enjoyed. If your teen plays sports, for example, he or she won't have to worry about a mouth filled with metal brackets getting injured during play. If your teen plays an instrument, he or she won’t have to worry about traditional braces affecting normal playing techniques. The aligners will remain both comfortable and convenient during all of those activities and more.

If your teen is concerned about physical appearance and worried that braces will adversely affect his or her life for a year or more, Invisalign Teen treatment with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes is definitely the right choice. Teens don’t have to be shy about their smile, won’t have to change any of the activities they normally do, and will still get all the benefits of straight teeth when the process is completed.

For more information about Invisalign Teen, or to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes, please give us a call at our convenient Middleton, WI office today!

Smile with Invisalign Teen®!

February 26th, 2020

Invisalign Teen is designed with today’s youth in mind. These clear, removable orthodontic aligners can straighten your teeth without the need for metal wires and brackets. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign Teen aligners are comfortable, nearly invisible, and removable, which allows you to remove them as you eat your favorite foods and brush and floss your teeth. Invisalign Teen motivates teenagers to enjoy life without restrictions while promoting better overall dental care.

Key features of Invisalign Teen

Teenagers are constantly on the move and require special options when it comes to their braces. Invisalign Teen utilizes the same technology as Invisalign for adults; they consist of a series of clear plastic aligners that gradually move the teeth. Extra features designed especially for teens include:

  • Blue wear-indicators on the aligners that gradually fade from blue to clear to help you, and our team, gauge wear time
  • Aligners designed to compensate for the growth of molars and new teeth
  • Customization to fit your mouth correctly and comfortably
  • Removable and nearly transparent to ensure you can eat with freedom and smile with confidence
  • Six free individual replacement aligners in the event that your aligners become misplaced or lost

Conditions improved by Invisalign Teen

Between 70 and 80 percent of adolescents in the United States require braces, according to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). Invisalign Teen uses advanced technology to treat a broad range of orthodontic conditions. These include overbite, underbite, crossbite, widely-spaced teeth, and overly crowded teeth. Injuries and tooth and jaw problems may also require the use of braces to correct jaw and teeth alignment problems.

How does Invisalign Teen work?

Like any orthodontic treatment, Invisalign Teen requires a customized treatment plan created by Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes. Generally, each set of aligners is worn for approximately two weeks and removed when you brush, floss, eat, and drink. Your teeth will gradually move with the series of aligners, which typically ranges from 18 to 30 aligners in total. You’ll visit our Middleton, WI office every eight to ten weeks to check your progress and make any needed adjustments.

Invisalign Teen introduces a whole new way to make your smile straight without the unappealing look and hassle of traditional metal braces. This revolutionary method of correcting smiles is being used by teens everywhere, including right here at Hartjes Dental Associates, to straighten their teeth with confidence.

Anatomy of a Smile Makeover

February 19th, 2020

A smile makeover is usually a combination of one or more cosmetic dental procedures. To achieve your desired result, Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes may perform or suggest a variety of options. The entire process is designed specifically for your unique cosmetic needs, and Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes will make sure all your concerns regarding your smile are addressed.

Here are some of the most common procedures in cosmetic dentistry and how they work:

  • Tooth whitening – Whiter teeth are achieved through a bleaching process typically using hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Yellower teeth usually respond well to this procedure, while brown-colored teeth stained by fluorosis or taking tetracycline do not respond as well to whitening. Tooth whitening is not for everyone; if you have sensitive teeth, gum disease, or poor enamel, Dr. Brad Hartjes and Dr. Joel Hartjes may recommend against tooth-whitening services.
  • Orthodontics – Braces are one of the tried-and-true ways of achieving a healthier smile. Braces are typically worn between 12 and 24 months to reposition the teeth in a straighter and safer alignment. Since your bite is also corrected during this process, it helps ensure you won't have any trouble down the line. There are several different types of braces available these days including: traditional metal braces, clear ceramic braces, lingual braces, and clear aligners.
  • Veneers – Veneers are thin, tooth-colored material (porcelain or resin) designed to be placed on the front surface of teeth to improve their overall appearance. They can be used in cases where the color, shape, size, or length is not as desired. Veneers are usually used in cases where teeth are discolored, chipped, worn down, misaligned, irregular, or have gaps.
  • Implants/bridges – Dental implants and bridges are used to replace missing or broken teeth. Nowadays, both implants and bridges are commonly performed procedures. Implants integrate directly with the jawbone, while bridges are placed over the adjacent teeth to the missing tooth. Implant technology has advanced a great deal in recent years and highly biocompatible ceramic materials are becoming more commonplace.

Getting your perfect smile will take time and patience, but the end result will be well worth it! Please schedule an appointment at our