Dentist Blog

You’re ready to have that missing tooth replaced with a dental implant or other life-like restoration. But we may first have to address another problem — moving the teeth around the missing tooth space back to where they should be.

That empty space is the primary reason those teeth are no longer in the right position. Through their attachment to the periodontal ligament that lies between them and the bone, teeth are able to move slightly over time in response to mouth changes. This same mechanism, however, may also cause teeth to “drift” toward each other across the empty space left by a missing tooth; too much drift and there won’t be enough room for the replacement tooth.

A fairly straightforward orthodontic treatment can restore drifted teeth to their original position to make room for the replacement. There is one situation, however, that can complicate this treatment — if you also have periodontal (gum) disease, a plaque-induced bacterial infection. During normal tooth movement bone dissolves (resorbs) in front of the tooth in the direction of movement, while new bone forms behind it to help stabilize the tooth in its new position. Gum disease, however, can weaken the bone around these teeth, inhibiting the natural rebuilding process of bone and connective tissue that could jeopardize the success of the orthodontic treatment.

It’s important, then, to first treat and bring the gum disease under control to restore health to both the gums and bone. It’s also just as important during orthodontic treatment to prevent another infection flare-up through renewed brushing and flossing and regular office cleanings and checkups. Choosing clear aligners over traditional braces to move the teeth could also help — unlike fixed braces that often make oral hygiene difficult, clear aligners can be removed to allow easier cleaning of teeth and gums.

Depending on your situation, the process for preparing your mouth for a tooth replacement can involve several procedures and healing time. But the end result — a brand new tooth that looks amazing — will be something to smile about.

If you would like more information on orthodontics before tooth replacement, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Mark Makela D.D.S., PC
March 11, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene   braces  

If you or a family member wears braces, you're used to visiting your orthodontist for adjustments and progress monitoring. But it's just as important that you continue regular visits with your family dentist, especially if you begin noticing abnormalities with your teeth and gums.

We need to be on alert for dental health because risks for disease increase during orthodontic treatment. Most oral infections arise from plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles on tooth surfaces. You avoid plaque buildup by brushing and flossing at least once a day and undergoing semi-annual office cleanings for any remaining plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits).

Braces, however, can complicate hygiene. It's harder to get into areas blocked by the brackets and wires with your brush or floss. This can quickly give rise to gingivitis, a form of periodontal (gum) disease characterized by gum swelling. If not treated, gum disease could eventually cause the gums to detach from the teeth and lead to bone and tooth loss.

The brackets and wires can also irritate the gums and cause them to swell or overgrow, a condition called hyperplasia. This further complicates proper hygiene, which then increases the risk for infection even more.

It takes more time and effort to brush and floss effectively while wearing braces. But it's necessary to prevent these problems. Interproximal brushes (which fit in the spaces between teeth) can help, as well as special floss threaders. You might also consider a water flosser, which use a high-pressured water spray to remove plaque between teeth.

And, don't neglect seeing us on a regular basis. If you notice gum swelling, redness or bleeding, contact us as soon as possible.

If the swelling is due to hyperplasia, treatment could wait until after the braces come off, as long as there doesn't appear to be any gum detachment from the teeth. If there is, though, you may need to see a periodontist (a gum specialist) for further evaluation. It may be necessary in advanced cases to remove the braces to treat the underlying gum condition.

It pays to keep a close eye on your teeth and gums while wearing braces. Catching problems before they become too serious will help ensure your new smile is just as healthy as it is attractive.

If you would like more information on dental care while undergoing orthodontic treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Gum Swelling during Orthodontics.”


Multi-platinum recording artist Janet Jackson has long been known for her dazzling smile. And yet, Jackson admitted to InStyle Magazine that her trademark smile was once a major source of insecurity. The entertainer said, “To me, I looked like the Joker!” It was only after age 30 that the pop icon came to accept her unique look.

Jackson is not alone. A study commissioned by the American Association of Orthodontists found that more than one third of U.S. adults are dissatisfied with their smile. But there’s good news—modern dentistry can correct many flaws that can keep you from loving your smile, whether you’re unhappy with the color, size, or shape of your teeth. Here are some popular treatments:

Professional teeth whitening: Sometimes a professional teeth whitening will give you the boost you need. In-office whitening can dramatically brighten your smile in just one visit.

Tooth-colored fillings: If you have silver-colored fillings on teeth that show when you smile, consider replacing them with unnoticeable tooth-colored fillings.

Dental bonding: If you have chipped, cracked, or misshapen teeth, cosmetic bonding may be the fix you’re looking for. In this procedure, tooth colored material is applied to the tooth’s surface, sculpted into the desired shape, hardened with a special light, and polished for a smooth finish.

Porcelain veneers: Dental veneers provide a natural-looking, long-lasting solution to many dental problems. These very thin shells fit over your teeth, essentially replacing your tooth enamel to give you the smile you desire.

Replacement teeth: Is a missing tooth affecting your self-confidence? There are several options for replacing missing teeth, from a removable partial denture to a traditional fixed bridge to a state-of-the-art implant-supported replacement tooth. Removable partial dentures are an inexpensive way to replace one or more missing teeth, but they are less stable than non-removable options. Dental bridges, as the name implies, span the gap where a tooth is missing by attaching an artificial tooth to the teeth on either side of the space. In this procedure, the teeth on both sides of the gap must be filed down in order to support the bridgework. Dental implants, considered the gold standard in tooth replacement technology, anchor long-lasting, lifelike replacements that function like natural teeth.

After coming to embrace her smile, Jackson asserted, “Beautiful comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors." If you don’t feel that your smile expresses the beauty you have inside, call our office to schedule a consultation. It’s possible to love your smile. We can help.

For more information, read Dear Doctor magazine article “How Your Dentist Can Help You Look Younger.”

By Mark Makela D.D.S., PC
February 24, 2020
Category: Oral Care
Tags: Preventive Care  

Preventive care should be a important part of your dental routine. Preventive care involves regular visits with the dentist for an oral exam and professional teeth cleaning. Incorporating these things in your routine can help prevent various oral health concerns, such as cavities or gum disease. Dr. Mark Makela, the skilled dentist at our office in Petoskey, MI, can help you maintain optimal oral health through preventive dental care.

What is Preventive Dental Care?

Preventive dental care emphasizes the prevention of oral health problems that commonly affect many people. The goal is to prevent cavities, gum disease, and other issues from developing. The best way to prevent problems is by developing effective oral hygiene habits at home and visiting the dentist at our office in Petoskey regularly. Regular dental visits allow the dentist to identify potential problems early on so they can be addressed right away. Additionally, professional dental cleanings remove tartar buildup, which cannot be cleared away by brushing.

Developing Effective Oral Hygiene Habits at Home

In addition to regular dental checkups, there are many things you can do at home to maintain optimal oral health. Developing effective habits at home helps reduce the number of potential oral health issues needing to be addressed during dental visits. Examples of habits that can lead to a healthier mouth include:

  • Brush twice per day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles to gently brush the teeth
  • Floss between teeth daily
  • Limit sugary items in the diet
  • Avoid using tobacco products

It is extremely important to use a toothpaste with fluoride to prevent cavities from developing. Limiting consumption of sugary foods and drinks is also helpful for reducing cavities. Additionally, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and brushing gently ensures you are not being too abrasive, which can slowly erode tooth enamel over time. Brushing too vigorously can also lead to receding gums. Finally, tobacco users are more likely to develop gum disease, which can ultimately lead to tooth loss. Avoiding the use of tobacco products can lead to a healthier mouth.

The importance of preventive care to your oral health cannot be emphasized enough. By preventing common oral health problems from developing, or catching them early, preventive care helps you maintain healthier teeth and gums. To schedule an oral exam with Dr. Makela, our experienced dentist, call our office in Petoskey, MI, at (231) 347-2511.

By Mark Makela D.D.S., PC
February 21, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental crowns  

When a large cavity threatens the health of a tooth, your dentist may recommend a dental crown to restore its natural function. In other situations, crowns can reinforce one or multiple that have acquired cracks or damage from tooth decay or injury. They can also improve upon a tooth's original appearance and are virtually distinguishable from natural teeth. To determine if you're a candidate, schedule a consultation with Dr. Mark Makela in our Petoskey, MI, office. Continue reading to learn more about the importance of these durable restorations.

What is a Dental Crown?

These long-lasting restorations are also called tooth caps and come in a variety of materials. Depending on several factors, such as location, the position of gum tissue, how much enamel shows when you smile, and the color of surrounding teeth. Your dentist commonly suggests crowns for several instances, such as creating a lifelike replacement of one or multiple teeth, using bridgework. When you visit our Petoskey, MI, office, Dr. Makela can discuss the various materials available and help you figure out which type is best suitable for your specific needs.

The Importance of Dental Crowns

Dental crowns prevent cracked teeth from fracturing further and provide ultimate support for those with large fillings. They present many advantages, such as:

  • Restoring enamel to its natural shape and size
  • Disguising discolorations that may appear unattractive
  • Covering a dental implant or attaching a bridge
  • Protecting a weak tooth to keep it from breaking

What to Expect from Treatment

The process of installing a dental crown requires two visits to our dentist. Dr. Makela performs this minimally-invasive procedure in our Petoskey, MI, office, and first, he'll confirm if the tooth can support a crown. If so, he'll fill it until achieving the desired shape. Once this step is complete, the dentist will take an impression and send it to a laboratory where the permanent crown gets fabricated. During your second visit, Dr. Makela will bond it to the tooth with cement and give you instructions on how to care for your new restoration. These include brushing and flossing daily and visiting us for professional cleanings and oral examinations.

Your dentist may use a crown if you require a root canal or if the tooth is breaking. Additionally, he'll incorporate them into bridgework and dental implants when necessary. During your initial visit, Dr. Mark Makela can perform a smile assessment, examine the teeth, and surrounding tissues, as well as address any questions or concerns that arise. For more information about dental crowns and other services provided, visit our website, and for appointment scheduling in our Petoskey, MI, office, please call (231)-347-2511.

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