Shelby Township Dentist Answers Patient’s Questions

Question: My mouth seems to be drier these days and every time I visit my dentist I seem to have cavities. Why is this?

Answer: Many medications dry up the mouth by reducing saliva flow. These include water pills, heart medication, and other oral medicines. The saliva contains substances that neutralize the acids in the mouth. These acids are formed when the bacteria in the mouth come in contact with sugars and carbohydrates. In a healthy individual where saliva flow is adequate this doesn’t usually present a problem, but for the senior who has a dry mouth cavities develop very rapidly and frequently. A prescription grade fluoride should be used daily to prevent these problems.

Question: My husband snores and I am concerned that he will stop breathing. I have heard of dental procedures that help reduce snoring. Please explain.

Answer: Snoring is caused by partial closure of the airway by the tongue, pharynx or palate. Over 60 million Americans suffer from snoring. Because a deep level of sleep is never achieved there is a chronic feeling of being tired and lacking energy. If the situation is more severe sleep apnea will occur which is the stoppage of breathing. This can be dangerous not only during the breathing stoppage, but when driving or times when attention is needed.
We fabricate specialized mouth guards that are to be used during the night. They position the lower jaw and tongue forward thereby allowing for an open airway to be obtained. When an open airway is obtained breathing becomes much easier and a deeper level of sleep can be obtained.

Question: My teeth are getting darker over the last few years. Do I need to be concerned about that?

Answer: Natural teeth pick up stains over the years. The outer layer of the teeth is made of enamel. Enamel can develop microscopic cracks where stains seep into. Dental bleaching agents oxidize these cracks and the teeth can become whiter. This is assuming that the dark areas are not decay, which can look dark also. See your dentist to make sure they are not new areas of decay.

Question: My lower denture seems to be flopping around in my mouth. What are these implants I have been reading about and do they last?

Answer: Dentures are made of plastic. The bone and soft tissues of the mouth change over time where the plastic doesn’t adapt. Even a good set of dentures will flop around the mouth because they depend only on the tongue and lips to stay in place. Implants are “man made tooth roots” and are used to anchor the denture down. Snap-like attachments are placed in the denture which attach to the implants. This gives the denture a remarkable hold without all the hassle and taste of denture adhesive. Because implants are made of a special titanium they actually become part of the jaw bone. When properly taken care of these implants should last a lifetime.

Question: What type of toothpaste do you recommend?

Answer: I get asked this question a lot. There are many good toothpastes on the market today from whitening, anti-tarter, anti-plaque, etc. It can get quite confusing just trying to buy a tube of paste. I recommend one that has a high fluoride level. Be aware of the anti-tarter pastes because they can cause the soft tissues of the mouth lining to rub off. These formulations can be pretty strong so be careful.

Question: Why is it necessary to have x-rays every year?

Answer: A visual and examination of your teeth that your dentist does every time you go shows only about 50% of the condition of the hard tissues of the mouth. X-rays show us the density of bone and tooth giving us a lot of information that is invisible to the eye and dental instruments. We can see the bone levels to determine if you have periodontal disease, tumors and to determine if you have cavities between the teeth.

Question: My wife complains about my bad breath. Where does this come from and how do I treat it?

Answer: There are a few causes of bad breath. It can be from a health issue such as diabetes or other systemic problems. The most common cause of bad breath comes from active sulfer compounds in the mouth. The bacteria that causes breakdown of the bone around the teeth emit these smelly compounds. Periodontal (gum) disease is a common reason why the breath smells foul. Bad breath can be emitted where food traps and becomes decayed between your teeth. If you haven’t had an examination recently done to determine the cause of your problem I would recommend one soon. You could loose your teeth from the periodontal infection.

Question: Why should I consider an implant at the age of 70?

Answer: Implants are manmade tooth roots. They can be placed in most patients. Age has nothing to do with the health of the bone in which the implants are placed. As long as you are healthy implants can be used to help you eat at be confident with your smile. There are only a couple of conditions which would reduce the success of implants. These have to do with the bodies ability to heal. They are smoking, uncontrolled diabetes and a few other systemic diseases that can not be controlled with medications.

Question: What Can I do if I have a toothache and can’t get into a dentist what do I do?
Answer: There are many reasons why teeth become painful. The most common reason is because of infections that develop from the teeth or the gums that surround the teeth. These usually need to be treated by a dentist. If you can’t locate a dentist then you may need to go to the emergency at the hospital if there is significant swelling. You could attempt to call me at (586) 573-4500. This will reach my cellular phone which is on all the time. Either way it is important to take action to resolve your pain immediately.

Shelby Township Dentist Answers Patient’s Questions

Dr Antolak practices dentistry in Shelby Township, Michigan. He performs all phases of dentistry in a high tech and friendly environment. He can be reached at 586.247.3500 or visit his website at