My Blog

Posts for: August, 2016


Losing a tooth from disease or accident can be traumatic. The good news, though, is that it can be replaced with a life-like replica that restores your smile. One of the most popular and durable solutions is a dental implant, which replaces not only the root of the tooth but the crown as well.

But there's a possible wrinkle with implants — for accurate placement there must be a sufficient amount of bone around it. This could be a problem if you've been missing the tooth for sometime: without the stimulus provided by a tooth as you chew, older bone cells aren't replaced at an adequate rate. The bone volume gradually diminishes, as up to 25% of its normal width can be lost during the first year after tooth loss. A traumatic injury can damage underlying bone to an even greater extent.

There is a possible solution, but it will require the services of other specialists, particularly a periodontist trained in gum and bone structure. The first step is a complete examination of the mouth to gauge the true extent of any bone loss. While x-rays play a crucial role, a CT scan in particular provides a three-dimensional view of the jaw and more detail on any bone loss.

With a more accurate bone loss picture, we can then set about actually creating new bone through grafting procedures. One such technique is called a ridge augmentation: after opening the gum tissues, we place the bone graft within a barrier membrane to protect it. Over time the bone will grow replacing both the grafting material and membrane structure.

Once we have enough regenerated bone, we can then perform dental implant surgery. There are two options: a “one-stage” procedure in which a temporary crown is placed on the implant immediately after surgery; or a “two-stage” in which we place the gum tissue over the implant to protect it as it heals and bone grows and attaches to it. In cases of pre-surgical bone grafting, it's usually best to go with the two-stage procedure for maximum protection while the bone strengthens around it.

Necessary preparation of the bone for a future dental implant takes time. But the extra effort will pay off with a new smile you'll be proud to display.

If you would like more information on special situations with dental implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Dr. John Leitner
August 08, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Oral Habits  

Have you been wondering how you can get the whole family to have a healthier smile?

A healthy smile is probably one of the most important things you and your family can strive for. So what can you do to make sure that everyone in the family has a clean bill of health the next time they visit our Grand Haven family dentist Dr. John Leitner for their six-monthToothbrush cleaning? Find out now!

Start ‘em Young!

The sooner you start bringing your little ones in to visit their Grand Haven dentist, the better! Once children turn one year old, they should visit us every six months for routine cleanings and exams. The sooner you can get them acclimated with coming into our office the easier these visits will be.

Consider Fluoride Treatment

There are many great ways to protect your little one’s smiles from cavities, and one popular option is through fluoride treatments. While fluoride can be found in toothpaste and even the water you drink, not all children get enough fluoride necessary for healthy smiles. Talk to us about fluoride applications for you and your children.

Learn How to Brush and Floss Properly

It’s important that you make brushing and flossing a normal routine in your household. Maybe that means cleaning your teeth together as a family or setting a timer to make sure your children are brushing for at least two minutes every time they brush. Lead by example and make sure that your kids know how important it is to keep teeth clean. If you need pointers on how to brush and floss more effectively, don’t be afraid to ask us!

Visit the Dentist Regularly

This rule applies to everyone, no matter what age. Every six months is standard for preventive cleanings and exams to make sure that everyone’s smiles are free of decay, infection or disease. However, there are some cases that warrant visiting us more often including wearing braces or treating gum disease, so talk to us about how often everyone in your family should come in for a visit.

No matter if you have questions about how to properly care for your child’s growing smile or you need to schedule a routine visit, you can always turn to our Grand Haven family dental office for all of your smile needs. Give us a call today!


A few days before the Oscars, Vanity Fair magazine asked Academy Awards host Neil Patrick Harris to name his most treasured possession. Was it his Tony award statuette for best leading actor in a musical? His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? The stethoscope he wore while playing teenaged doctor Doogie Howser on TV? No, as it turns out, the 41-year-old actor’s most treasured possession is… his wisdom teeth. Yes, you read that correctly. “Oddly, I still have my four wisdom teeth,” Harris said. “I refuse to let them go or I’ll lose my wise parts.”

How odd is it for a 41-year-old to have wisdom teeth? Actually, not that odd at all. While it is true that wisdom teeth are often removed, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this. It all depends on whether they are causing problems now, or are likely to cause problems in the future.

The trouble wisdom teeth cause is related to the fact that they are the last molars to come in, and that molars are large in size. By the time wisdom teeth appear between the ages of 17 and 21, there often is not enough room for them in the jaw. Sometimes it’s because you may have inherited a jaw size that’s too small for your tooth size; and generally speaking, the size of the human jaw has evolved to become smaller over time.

If room is lacking, the adjacent molar (that came in earlier) can interfere with the path of eruption — causing the wisdom tooth to come in at an odd angle. The wisdom tooth can hit up against that other tooth, possibly causing pain or damaging the adjacent tooth. This is known as “impaction.” Sometimes the wisdom tooth breaks only partway through the gum tissue, leaving a space beneath the gum line that’s almost impossible to clean, causing infection. A serious oral infection can jeopardize the survival of teeth, and even spread to other parts of the body.

If a wisdom tooth is impacted, will you know it? Not necessarily. A tooth can be impacted without causing pain. But we can see the position of your wisdom teeth on a dental x-ray and help you make an informed decision as to whether they should stay or go. If removal is the best course of action, rest assured that this procedure is completely routine and that your comfort and safety is our highest priority. If there is no great risk to keeping them, as Neil Patrick Harris has done, we can simply continue to monitor their condition at your regular dental checkups. It will be particularly important to make sure you are reaching those teeth with your brush and floss, and that you keep to your schedule of regular professional cleanings at the dental office. All healthy teeth are indeed worth treasuring.

If you would like more information about wisdom teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”