Frequently Asked Questions

See the answers to a variety of questions we’ve received or we feel may be helpful to you, below.

How can a dental practice protect the environment?

[ A news report by Dave Anderson on KBJR ] In the early 80’s, John Jaros of Duluth was in the tooth smashing business of German semi–pro hockey. “That’s one of the reasons why I’m here today. I had a six tooth bridge that was put in my mouth in Germany,” dental patient, John Jaros, said. Thanks to the skill of Dr. Greg Kaake, it’s now an eight tooth bridge. The doctor’s practice produces mercury waste, mainly from the removal of old silver amalgam fillings.The EPA is mulling new rules that would require dentists to install amalgam traps. Kaake already has them. “We have traps by the chair and those little traps catch about 75 percent of the mercury fillings,” said Dr. Kaake. Nearly all of the rest of the remaining 25% is filtered out by another trap in the basement. The effectiveness of trapping amalgam was proven right here in the Northland. WLSSD chemist Tim Tuominen and Dr. Jim Westman of the Northeastern District Dental Society researched the topic in the early 90’s. Their published papers spread like dental wildfire. “It went from Duluth to Minneapolis and eventually to the ADA in Chicago,” Kaake said. And from the American Dental Association to the rest of the nation. 40% of American dentists have amalgam traps and the number is over 90% for the Northland. “Well, I think you have to do that. We’re in a health care setting and health is most important and so I think most dentists are certainly concerned about it,” Kaake said. John Jaros is glad his doctor goes through the effort. “Ensuring you don’t put things in the waste stream that are going to be contaminating the water,” Jaros said. Amalgam fillings don’t pollute the water directly. They are very chemically stable when solid. The problems come when waste water treatment plant sludge is incinerated. That’s what releases mercury into the air that eventually falls back into bodies of water.

What is periodontal disease?

Found in 80% of American adults, periodontal disease is a silent disease of the gums that contributes to tooth loss. In the gum pocket around each tooth bacteria produces toxins that stimulate the body’s immune system. The resulting inflammatory response causes the gums to separate from the tooth and the bone, and the gums adjacent to the tooth to recede. Additionally, research has shown gum infections have implications in general health such as heart disease. To learn more about periodontal disease [click here].

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is the destruction of hard tooth structure by bacterial by-products. Plaque, a sticky film by-product of bacteria, constantly forms on your teeth. When you eat or drink foods containing sugars, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth and over time the tooth can break down. This is when cavities can form. To learn more about tooth decay [click here].

What are veneers?

Veneers are thin shells of ceramic (porcelain) or composite resin material, which are bonded to the front of teeth and can be the ideal choice for improving the appearance of the front teeth. Veneers are placed to mask discolorations, brighten teeth and improve a smile. Veneers are an excellent alternative to crowns in many situations. They provide a much more conservative approach to changing a tooth’s color, size or shape. Veneers can mask undesirable defects and generally last for many years. To learn more about veneers [click here].

What causes bad breath?

Bad breath, or more formally called halitosis, can result from poor dental health, lung gases or stomach odors. Certain foods or unhealthy lifestyle habits may also contribute to halitosis. To learn more about bad breath [click here].

How safe are dental x-rays?

Not only do digital x-rays allow immediate viewing, more compact storage, enhanced viewing and email communication between dental practitioners, they also require less radiation than traditional film-based x-rays. To learn more about the safety of dental x-rays [click here].

What are the benefits of fluoride?

Fluoride, found naturally in water, is regulated to an optimal level in public water supplies at about 1 part per million for tooth development and bone growth. In school studies fluoride has been shown to dramatically reduce dental decay in children. To learn more about the benefits of fluoride [click here].