General FAQ

Take a few moments to browse commonly asked questions and their corresponding answers listed below. Don’t see your question answered here? Contact us online or call our office so we can help you as soon as possible.

Please use the category navigation drop-down menu below to easily locate the dental topic you’d like to know more about.

Invisalign®

1. What is Invisalign treatment?

Invisalign are nearly invisible aligners designed to gradually straighten your teeth and adjust your bite over time. Similar to braces, the aligners are intended to fit over your teeth and carefully apply controlled force to teeth so that they can be moved to a better position.

This corrective dental treatment is ideal for those who don’t want noticeable wires or brackets but do want straight, healthy teeth.

2. Who is Invisalign treatment for?

Teenagers and adults are welcome to try out this alternative to traditional orthodontic treatment. It is important that you be evaluated by one of our Invisalign dentists to see if you are a candidate as Invisalign is not practical for every dental situation.

3. How does Invisalign work?

Before aligners can be created, our Invisalign dentists will first design a plan for you using a specialized computer software. This plan will consist of several dozen stages and within each stage, will be a set of aligners.

Top and bottom aligners are to be worn for a few weeks at a time and must be kept on for 20-22 hours each day for best results. You will be expected to progress through each provided aligner until treatment is complete.

4. What are the benefits of Invisalign clear aligners compared to traditional braces?

While traditional metal braces work for many, Invisalign stands out as the more comfortable alternative. Advantages of Invisalign clear aligners include:

  • They are subtle and nearly invisible to family, friends, and co-workers.
  • You are able to remove them to eat, drink, brush, and floss.
  • Freedom to enjoy an unrestricted diet; no need to avoid sticky or chewy foods.
  • Easier to practice oral hygiene thanks to removable nature.

5. How long do I have to wear Invisalign clear aligners?

It is recommended that you wear your Invisalign clear aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day. You are allowed to take them out for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing.

Generally speaking, the average treatment length for Invisalign is between 12 and 16 months although every patient is different.

Teeth Cleanings

1. How often should I have my teeth professionally cleaned?

Our dentists recommend that you visit our office for a teeth cleaning every 6 months. This schedule allows our dentists to detect any possible dental issues that may arise and perform treatment in a timely manner. Professional teeth cleanings also remove hardened plaque (tartar) that isn’t always removed with regular oral care.

2. What can I expect during a teeth cleaning?

There are 4 main components of a teeth cleaning that you can expect every time.

  • Check for Obvious Oral Health Issues: our dental hygienist will check for obvious oral health issues like tooth decay or gum disease.
  • Remove Plaque and Tartar: A special dental tool called a scaler is used to gently scrape away plaque and tartar from teeth.
  • Polish and Floss Teeth: A high-powered brush and gritty toothpaste are used to polish your teeth. Once polished, our hygienist will instruct you to rinse. Flossing will then begin to remove any remaining dental plaque, tartar, or other debris.
  • Examine Teeth and Gums: One of our dentists will arrive to inspect your teeth and gums. Any questions or concerns you may have about your oral health can be addressed to our dentist at this time as well.

3. Will a teeth cleaning hurt?

No, a teeth cleaning should not be painful or cause discomfort. If at any point, you feel pain, please let our dental hygienist know.

4. What should I not do after a teeth cleaning?

Following your teeth cleaning, it is wise to avoid foods or drinks that are high in acid such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, pickles, fruit juice, and red wine. These consumables can be harsh on your mouth soon after a dental cleaning.

5. What can I do to keep my teeth clean in between check ups?

There are a few simple things you can do at home to keep your teeth and gums clean. To get rid of plaque on your own, make sure you are brushing your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes each time and flossing daily.

Emergency Dental Services

1. What are the most common dental emergencies?

At MI Smiles Dental, our dentists offer a range of emergency dental services. Please schedule emergency dental care as soon as possible if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Knocked-out tooth
  • Loose tooth
  • Broken or cracked tooth
  • Soft tissue injuries (lips, gums, tongue, inside of cheeks)
  • Toothache that won’t go away
  • Dental abscess

2. What should I do if my tooth is knocked out?

If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to follow these steps before seeking dental care either at our office or at the nearest emergency room.

  • Carefully pick the tooth up by the top, or crown to avoid damage to the roots.
  • Gently rinse off any dirt or debris that may be on the tooth.
  • If possible, place the tooth back in the socket or submerge in a glass of milk.
  • Seek urgent dental care.

3. What should I do if my tooth is broken or cracked?

Please follow these quick instructions if you have just broken or cracked a tooth. Do not delay treatment and immediately seek out emergency dental care at our office or at the nearest emergency room.

  • Save all pieces of the tooth if possible.
  • Gently rinse mouth with warm water.
  • Apply a cold compress to your face if needed to reduce swelling.
  • Take acetaminophen (not aspirin) to manage pain.
  • Seek urgent dental care.

4. When is it recommended to go to the emergency room?

If you have sustained another injury in addition to your mouth, emergency room treatment is recommended. Also, if for any reason you can’t reach our office soon enough, please visit your nearest emergency room.

5. What is not a dental emergency?

Knowing what is and what isn’t a dental emergency can influence how fast you seek out oral care. Though annoying, a lost crown or filling does not constitute a dental emergency. However, we encourage you to still call us soon after it has happened to schedule an appointment with our dentists.

Dental Implants

1. What are dental implants?

A dental implant is a prosthetic tooth root, typically made of titanium, that supports a crown much like a natural tooth root would. Dental implants are designed to fill in gaps where teeth are missing so a patient’s smile can be restored.

2. What are the benefits of dental implants?

There are several benefits that come with having dental implants. For one, they are more stable than dentures because they are anchored to your jawbone. This means there is no worry about them moving at inopportune times.

Dental implants also look and feel natural. Thanks to their long-lasting stability, you’ll be able to continue eating many of your favorite foods.

3. What is the dental implant procedure?

The entire dental implant process takes several months to complete. Our dentists will first confirm that you are indeed a candidate for dental implant surgery and if you are, will begin the procedure at a scheduled time.

During your first appointment, we will administer anesthesia before inserting the implant into your jawbone. Over the next few months, the tooth implant will fuse to your jawbone. This process is known as osseointegration.

Your healing will be monitored by our dentists and once the implantation is complete, you’ll return to have a porcelain crown placed over the implant.

4. Are there alternatives to dental implants?

If you are not a candidate for dental implant surgery or you are comfortable with removable teeth, we recommend that you try either full or partial dentures. Dentures also are designed to function like real teeth and can help you regain confidence in your smile.

5. How long do dental implants last?

If treated with care and proper oral hygiene habits are practiced, dental implants can last decades. Continue to floss and brush daily to prevent plaque and tartar buildup.

Dental Crowns

1. What is a dental crown?

A dental crown is essentially a cap for a damaged tooth. The crown covers the entire visible portion of your tooth above the gum line. Our dentists will often recommend porcelain crowns for teeth that are fragile, broken, or discolored.

2. What does the dental crown process involve?

At your first appointment, our dentists will remove enough enamel to allow the dental crown to fit over the tooth. They will then take impressions of your teeth to send to the dental lab.

It will take a few weeks to craft the dental crown so a temporary crown will be placed in the meantime. This ensures that your teeth and gums will be protected while you wait. When the permanent crown is ready, it will be cemented in place.

3. Why would I need a dental crown?

A dental crown may be necessary for a multitude of reasons. Those include:

  • A tooth with a large filling needs to be strengthened.
  • A fragile or broken tooth needs to be restored.
  • A dental bridge needs to be supported.
  • A dental implant, tooth discoloration, or misshapen tooth needs to be covered.

4. How do I care for my dental crown(s)?

Just like with the rest of your teeth, you will need to stay on top of your oral care. Gently brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. It is also recommended to avoid hard foods as they could damage your crown and if you grind or clench your teeth, to consider integrating a night guard into your bedtime routine.

5. What is a temporary crown?

A temporary dental crown is placed by our dentists while your permanent crown is being crafted in the dental lab. It is placed over the tooth and held in place with an adhesive that can be removed once the permanent version is ready.

Cosmetic Fillings

1. What are cosmetic fillings?

Cosmetic dental fillings are often required after a cavity has been detected. They are used to fill the hole that is left after our dentists drill out the tooth decay.

Our dentists use composite resin fillings which are made to match the color of your natural enamel. There is no metal involved unlike traditional amalgam fillings and you or others will not be able to visually tell you’ve received a filling.

2. Why do I need a filling?

If a cavity has been found during an oral examination, you will likely need a filling. Tooth decay should not be ignored because if a cavity is left untreated, it could lead to serious oral health complications.

3. How are cosmetic fillings applied?

First, our dentists will administer local anesthesia to numb the tooth and the surrounding area. Once the tooth is properly numb, the decayed tooth structure can be removed and the hole can be filled with composite resin.

4. What should I expect after receiving a filling?

It is normal for the treated area to feel numb for a few hours after the procedure. However, you will be able to return to work or school following your appointment. You may also notice some slight discomfort or sensitivity but this should subside in time.

5. When should a filling be replaced?

If cared for properly, dental fillings last for several years before they need to be replaced. Fillings do start to wear after years of chewing but can wear down sooner if you clench or grind your teeth.

If you noticed cracks or worn areas on your fillings, please see one of our dentists as soon as you are able to have it replaced. Continuing to chew with a damaged filling can potentially cause the tooth to crack and require additional restorative care.

Get Quality Dental Care

Our West Michigan family dentists provide quality dental care to patients of all ages. With five convenient West Michigan locations, we have the capability of handling all of your family's dental needs. Call MI Smiles Dental Grand Haven at (616) 842-1188, MI Smiles Dental Cascade at (616) 974-4990, MI Smiles Comstock Park at (616) 784-3515, or MI Smiles Grand Rapids at (616) 942-2870 today, or schedule your appointment online.