Why Do I Keep Snoring at Night?

snoring while sleeping

snoring while sleepingRoyal Oak and Birmingham, MI

Nearly 37 million Americans snore while sleeping. Since this condition is common, you may assume that it’s no big deal. But unfortunately, ignoring your snoring could increase your risk of certain life-threatening conditions like cardiovascular disease, stroke, insulin resistance, depression, and even certain cancers. Therefore, determining what’s causing your snoring and controlling the problem is the first step in protecting your overall health against the damaging effects of this condition. So today on the blog, our Royal Oak airway dentist at Hartrick Dentistry answers this common question, why do I keep snoring at night?

Your age

Aging adults report that their sleep habits change as they get older. You may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep compared to your sleep habits when you were younger. Also, as you age, your skin loses elasticity and muscle mass reduces, which occurs everywhere in the body, including the throat. Therefore, airway blockages are more likely to occur as you age, which could impede airflow and result in snoring.

Your natural anatomy

Anatomical conditions like a deviated septum, nasal polyps, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, and even chronic allergies or the occasional cold may cause airway restrictions that result in snoring. In some cases, surgery is needed to remove chronically enlarged airway tissue, while over-the-counter medications will most often relieve blocked airways associated with allergies or the common cold. However, we recommend that you speak with your primary care provider before starting any over-the-counter medications.

Your sleep position

You’re most likely to snore if you sleep on your back because gravity causes the mouth to gape open, and the tongue to slide back toward the airway, blocking airflow. If you do snore, perhaps try sleeping on your side or propped on a pillow to help lessen the airway restriction. If you try side sleeping yet continue rolling over onto your back, place a pillow behind your back to help force you to sleep on your side.

Alcohol consumption

A common myth is that alcohol induces sleep. But the reality is that alcohol has the opposite effect. Since alcohol is a relaxant, overconsumption could lead to a collapsed or blocked airway that impedes breathing and results in loud snoring. Therefore, reconsider that nightcap beverage because it isn’t going to help you sleep after all, and may even be contributing to your snoring.

Being overweight

Excess weight or fat deposits around the neck can make a person more likely to snore. But you could be at risk of snoring even if you carry the bulk of your weight elsewhere on your body. Some studies show that being as little as a few pounds overweight could lead to less muscle tone and added fat deposits, which are also likely to occur around the neck. Therefore, if you snore, consider weight management solutions to help shed some pounds and improve the rest of your health while you’re at it.

Sleep Apnea Screenings in Royal Oak and Birmingham, Michigan

If you snore, you probably experience chronic fatigue, mood swings, and other symptoms that you can’t quite put your finger on the cause. However, a simple sleep apnea screening in Royal Oak at Hartrick Dentistry can help you learn more about your airway health and whether you could benefit from an official sleep study. To learn more or schedule a sleep apnea screening today, contact Hartrick Dentistry by calling (248) 549-0950.

Posted in Sleep Apnea

Is Sleep Loss Really that Big of a Deal?

is sleep loss a big deal

is sleep loss a big dealRoyal Oak and Birmingham, MI

Sleep loss plagues everyone from time to time. But for some sufferers, turning and tossing or frequent awakenings throughout the night are enough to impact their daily lives, even to the point of developing health problems and depression. But there are many people dealing with sleep loss that may only feel fatigued throughout the day and not realize the impact that sleep loss has on their health. So, today on the blog, we’re answering a common question, is sleep loss really that big of a deal?

Common causes of sleep loss

Sleep loss can be caused by a variety of factors including caffeine consumption close to bedtime, drinking alcohol, eating a heavy meal late at night, stress, a side effect of certain medications, or untreated sleep apnea. Some of these causes can be remedied by modifying your diet, getting plenty of exercise, and reducing stress in your life, but sleep apnea requires the help of an airway dentist in Royal Oak, like Dr. Nancy Hartrick.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the airway becomes partially or completely blocked during sleep. Many times, sleep apnea sufferers are unaware of their condition, although may find that they wake frequently throughout the night, toss and turn, or have insomnia. Loud snoring or gasping for air are other common symptoms of sleep apnea.

Why is sleep loss a big deal?

Sleep loss can lead to various problems in life, such as an increased risk of an accident (either while driving or operating machinery at work), migraines or frequent headaches, weight gain, and low sex drive, and it can make the sufferer lose interest in once-loved activities because they are tired all of the time. Sleep loss sufferers that experience poor quality sleep night after night may even exhibit symptoms of depression. If these issues aren’t enough to make you want to seek help, sleep loss, and air deprivation also increase one’s risk of heart disease, stroke, insulin resistance, and certain cancers.

How does sleep apnea affect the quality of my sleep?

Sleep apnea interferes with the REM sleep cycle, which is the deepest stage of sleep where the brain and cells throughout your body repair and rejuvenate. Depriving your body of these REM sleep stresses the brain, and can lead to chronic systemic inflammation, which increases your risk of various other health problems mentioned above. Therefore, if you snore, experience daytime fatigue, or have been told that you have sleep apnea, it is imperative that you see an airway dentist near you in Royal Oak.

Who is at risk of sleep apnea?

You might assume that since snoring is one of the biggest indicators of sleep apnea that it only affects the elderly and overweight individuals. But even young, healthy athletes are at risk of sleep apnea. Therefore, Dr. Hartrick recommends a simple airway screening when you see us for a check-up.

How can I get help for my sleep apnea and snoring?

Dr. Hartrick can recommend a sleep study, if necessary, and work with your sleep medicine physician to administer a comfortable and convenient oral appliance to relieve you of your sleep apnea symptoms and the risks associated with it. Our oral appliances are often covered by insurance and have a higher compliance rate than CPAP machines which are bulky, noisy, and uncomfortable. Therefore, if you’d like to learn more about sleep apnea evaluations or find out about an oral appliance designed to manage snoring, contact Hartrick Dentistry by calling (248) 549-0950.

Posted in Sleep Apnea

4 Oral Hygiene Rituals That You Can’t Live Without

oral hygiene rituals

oral hygiene ritualsRoyal Oak and Birmingham, MI

It’s no secret that a healthy lifestyle helps reduce your risks of illnesses and diseases, but did you know that oral hygiene should also be part of a healthy lifestyle? Oral hygiene is an important part of your overall health and wellness. Studies link poor oral health to an increased risk of diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and dementia. But with a daily oral hygiene regimen, you could help protect your mouth and your body. Today on the blog, our family dentist in Royal Oak, Dr. Nancy Hartrick, shares four oral hygiene rituals that you can’t live without.

Brushing twice a day for two minutes each session

Brushing your teeth is the best way to remove plaque and bacteria from your teeth that could otherwise cause cavities or gum disease. But if you aren’t brushing your teeth often enough or for long enough at each session, then you leave yourself at risk of oral diseases and even tooth loss, eventually. Therefore, be sure that you brush your teeth twice a day and for at least two minutes each time. Two minutes is longer than you think. Most people probably only brush for about 30 seconds. To be sure you’re brushing long enough, set a timer to ensure you brush your teeth for a full two minutes. And always brush your teeth before bed to remove food, bacteria, and sugar so that these substances don’t linger and become destructive while you sleep.

Flossing your teeth daily

It’s true that many adults and children do not floss their teeth ever or hardly at all. Unfortunately, if you skip flossing, you could be at risk of developing oral diseases that lead to pain or tooth loss. It is recommended that you floss your teeth every day before bed. Flossing cleans between your teeth where your toothbrush simply cannot reach. Not only will you experience improved breath, but flossing also lowers your risk of gum disease, the number one cause of tooth loss among adults in the U.S.

Rinsing with alcohol-free mouthwash

Mouthwash does not take the place of regular brushing and flossing but adding it to your nightly oral hygiene routine has its benefits. It’s a common misconception that mouthwash should burn and sting. And that the worse the burn, the better the job the solution is doing at protecting your oral health. Thankfully, that is a false claim. In fact, you can opt for alcohol-free mouth rinses that produce the same results as mouthwash that contain alcohol, except without the burn. Some studies found that alcohol-based mouthwashes disturb the oral microbiome, which could increase the risk of oral diseases, and certain types of oral cancer. Therefore, opt for an alcohol-free mouthwash to be on the safe side and still reap the oral health benefits of fresher breath and healthier teeth.

See your Royal Oak dentist twice a year

Twice-yearly dental cleanings and checkups are necessary to maintain healthy teeth and gums. During your dental cleanings, the hygienist removes stuck-on tartar buildup that could lead to gum infections and cavities if ignored. These cleanings also remove stains from your teeth. The dentist conducts a thorough examination of your oral health, noting any changes that need to be addressed as soon as they appear before costly repairs are needed.

Family Dentist in Royal Oak and Birmingham, Michigan

Dr. Hartrick offers family dental care to patients of all ages. We believe that at-home oral hygiene and routine dental checkups and cleanings are the cornerstone of healthy teeth and gums. If you are ready to schedule an appointment, please contact Hartrick Dentistry by calling (248) 549-0950. But we encourage you to adopt these four oral hygiene rituals to maintain good oral health throughout your life.

Posted in Oral Health

Do Probiotics Promote Better Oral Health?


ProbioticsRoyal Oak and Birmingham, MI

Probiotics and their effect on the human microbiome have been the topic of many discussions among doctors and in medical studies. The more we understand about these microorganisms, the better we can improve our health. Similar to microbiomes inside of our bodies, like the gut, our mouths contain millions of bacteria as well. The most common oral bacteria that you hear about is the kind that causes tooth decay and gum disease. But recent studies show there are other oral microbiota that we should focus on so that we can better understand their role in the microbial community. You’ve probably heard about the benefits of taking a probiotic and its effect on gut health and the rest of the body. So, today on the blog, find out if probiotics promote better oral health.

What’s the importance of our oral microbiome?

There are trillions of non-human microorganisms that make up the human body. Our oral cavity is the second largest microbiome in the human body, and it directly affects our gut and gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, our mouths deserve a lot more attention than they get! Unfortunately, certain medications, stress, environmental factors, and what we eat directly affect our oral microbiome, which can increase your risk of cavities and gum disease, the most prevalent chronic diseases in our country. According to studies, more than 1 in 4 adults have untreated cavities, as opposed to 1 in 5 children between the ages of 5 to 11 who have at least one cavity that is untreated. And a staggering half of adults over age 30 have some form of gum disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in the U.S.

Why are oral bacteria necessary for better oral health?

Oral probiotics could help reduce your risk of cavities and gum disease if brushing and flossing don’t seem to be enough for you. Some studies prove that specific strains of bacteria help restore the oral microbiome. These strains include Streptococcus salivarius M18, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Lactobacillus paracasei. If taken regularly, healthy bacteria colonize, limiting the growth of toxic bacteria in the mouth. The Lactobacillus bacteria is also found in the intestinal tract, which can help reduce harmful bacteria, even in saliva. Not only do probiotics help improve gut function, which impacts the immune system, but also promote better oral health.

What kind of probiotics do I need for my oral health?

Most probiotics that you’ve probably seen on the market are ones that you swallow, which means that those won’t affect your oral health but target your gut instead. However, for probiotics to target your oral health, you’d need to take one that dissolves slowly in the mouth or that can be applied directly to your teeth and gums. There are many of these probiotics available on the market, but if you’d like some advice on which one is right for you, please speak with Dr. Hartrick or one of our knowledgeable dental hygienists at your next cleaning appointment.

Family Dentist in Royal Oak and Birmingham, Michigan

Dr. Hartrick offers dental services to patients of all ages. Part of our services includes educating our patients on products and steps that can help improve their oral health and reduce their risk of oral diseases. Probiotics may make a difference for you. If you’d like to learn more or schedule a consultation, please call Hartrick Dentistry at (248) 549-0950.

Posted in Oral Health

How Long Does it Take to Recover from Wisdom Teeth Removal?

wisdom tooth removal

wisdom tooth removalRoyal Oak and Birmingham, MI

Wisdom teeth removal is common among young adults. Usually, dentists recommend removing impacted wisdom teeth between the ages of 18 and 24 because most individuals do not have enough room for these teeth to erupt. Wisdom teeth often partially emerge, which cause concerns later if not removed, or are impacted, meaning they are sideways under the gum, pushing on the roots of the back molars. Very few individuals have a large enough jaw and enough room in their mouth for their wisdom teeth, which is why removing them is usually the best option.

If you’re considering getting your wisdom teeth removed, or the dentist has told you that it’s time for this procedure, you may wonder how long the recovery takes. Today on the blog, our family dentist in Royal Oak, Dr. Nancy Hartrick, shares how long it takes to recover from wisdom teeth removal.

Wisdom tooth recovery depends on the surgical process as well as how many wisdom teeth are removed. First, let’s discuss the different types of techniques used to remove wisdom teeth.

Basic Extraction

A basic extraction involves numbing the treatment area and then removing the tooth. In these cases, there is no surgery required, and the patient remains awake during the procedure.

Recovering from a basic extraction

Recovery after a basic extraction may vary. Since many individuals opt to have all four wisdom teeth removed at one visit, expect your entire mouth to be numb for several hours following the procedure. Your jaw will be sore and you will likely experience mild discomfort. However, most patients find relief by placing ice packs on their cheeks for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day, as well as taking over-the-counter pain relievers. You may find that you prefer to eat a soft foods diet for the first few days after treatment.

Surgical Extraction

If your wisdom teeth are impacted, the dentist may recommend a surgical extraction in which tiny incisions are made in the gum to allow access to the teeth, and then the teeth are removed. Oftentimes, surgical cases require sutures or stitches to seal the surgical site and help with healing. Surgical extractions of this nature can usually be performed by a general dentist, although in some cases, your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon if you need to be put to sleep during the treatment or have a complicated surgical extraction.

Recovering from a surgical extraction

While a surgical extraction is a bit more involved than a basic extraction, you will likely deal with the same amount of discomfort and your recovery will be similar. However, if you were put to sleep for your wisdom teeth extraction, your recovery will be quite different. Plan ahead by having someone drive you to and from your appointment. This individual should be a trusted adult that can stay with you for the first 24 hours to observe any side effects and to help care for you. But after the first 24 hours, your recovery will be similar to the other techniques.

Recovering from wisdom teeth removal looks different for everyone. However, most individuals may find that they need to eat soft foods for the first few days to a week afterward, although this timeframe varies, depending on your pain tolerance and natural healing abilities. It is vital that you avoid smoking, drinking through a straw, and spitting forcefully for the first 48 hours following the removal of your wisdom teeth. This helps prevent dislodging the blood clots that form after the teeth are removed. If the blood clot dislodges or you experience extreme pain, you could have a dry socket, which is an infection in the extraction site that requires immediate care by a dentist.

Wisdom Teeth Removal in Royal Oak and Birmingham, Michigan

Wisdom teeth removal and recovery will look different for everyone. But you should expect to feel some mild discomfort for the first few days, although you may be able to return to your usual activities and work after the first 24 hours as long as you do not experience excessive bleeding or pain. If you’d like to schedule an appointment for wisdom teeth removal or need to schedule a consultation, please call Hartrick Dentistry at (248) 549-0950.

Posted in General Dentistry

What are Some Early Signs of Dental Trouble

dental trouble

dental troubleRoyal Oak and Birmingham, MI

Most people can expect to have dental issues at some point in their lives. For some, that dental trouble is obvious: for example, a blow to the mouth that produces bleeding and broken or missing teeth are clear signs that the mouth is in distress.

For other, less sudden kinds of dental trouble, the teeth and gums may not provide signals that are so easy to read. In fact, in some cases there may by no signs at all, and the patient is only informed of a problem at a dental checkup. However, in many cases the mouth is, in fact, providing clues that something may be amiss.

What are the most common kinds of dental problems? And what are some signs of these?

Decay and gum disease

Two of the biggest threats to the mouth are tooth decay and periodontal disease. Both are related in cause, and the appearance of one often means the other is present, too.

Tooth decay can be defined as the weakening of teeth caused by disintegration of their enamel and the interior tissue. This tends to occur because of an abundance of lactic acid in the mouth. Lactic acid is produced by the bacteria Streptococcus mutans, which naturally occurs in the mouth and is nourished by compounds identified by chemists as “sugars.” These “sugars” are found in a wide variety of food and beverages and include sucrose (found in table sugar and things made with it), glucose (found in bread and most starches), lactose (found in milk and dairy products), and fructose (found in fruits, and often used as a sweetener for mass-produced pre-packaged foods). Many foods contain more than one kind of sugar.

The lactic acid produced by s. mutans causes a process called demineralization in the enamel (the hard white outer coating of the teeth), and although ions in saliva causes remineralization, if too many bacteria and acid is present, the wearing can outpace the restoring. This can cause the smooth surface of dental enamel to become roughened, encouraging bacteria to settle on the teeth, forming a film called plaque. Plaque can then emit acid directly onto the teeth, which can lead to pits, and then holes, in the enamel known as cavities. This exposes the interior tissue of the tooth called dentin to the acid, which can then wear away and expose the nerve. The acid can also cause all the enamel to become thinner.

The acid also irritates and inflames the gums and can eventually cause them to become infected. This will lead to them reducing in size (receding gums), which can expose more and more of the tooth to the acid. The plaque may, in fact, extend below the gumline, attacking the roots of the tooth and even the jawbone. This is what is known as periodontal disease, or gum disease.

Early signs of dental trouble

Often, the early stages of tooth decay and periodontal disease exhibit warning signs:

Visible evidence

Sometimes, a cavity that is forming is visible. For example, if a tooth begins to have a spot – most often black or brown – that does not go away after brushing or flossing, that is almost always a cavity.

Likewise, the thinning of enamel may cause teeth to appear yellow. This is because the whiteness of teeth comes from the enamel; the dentin below is actually yellow in color, and as the enamel – which is already translucent – gets thinner, the teeth can appear yellow.

Gums that appear discolored (usually a dark red or purple, as opposed to their normal healthy shade of pink), swollen, or shrinking may indicate the early stages of periodontal disease.

Sensitivity, pain, and loose teeth

Cavities cause holes in the enamel, the outer protective layer of the tooth whose function includes shielding the dental nerve. Holes in enamel or thinned enamel provides the nerve with less protection from things like temperature variations from hot and cold food and beverages. Even breathing in very cold air can cause discomfort and pain. Likewise, the gums also protect the roots of teeth. If they recede, they offer less protection. This, too, can cause sensitivity to hot and cold and pain from certain foods.

Inflamed gums can hurt even in the absence of hot and cold; sometimes the pain happens during chewing or when the gums are touched. And sometimes the gums can just hurt for no apparent reason. Finally, gums securely hold the teeth in place. When they recede, teeth can start to become loose.

Sensitivity, mouth pain, and loose-feeling teeth are all signs of dental trouble.

Blood and trouble flossing

Many people will experience bleeding gums on occasion, such as during over-enthusiastic flossing. But blood that occurs with every brushing or flossing, or for no apparent reason, is a sign of periodontal disease.

Furthermore, most people have also gotten food stuck in their teeth from time to time or have seen floss (especially of the woven veriety) start to fragment or tear. But if food continually gets stuck in one particular place, or if floss regularly tears in a specific spot, it might be a sign of enamel roughened by a cavity.

Bad breath and bad taste in the mouth

An unpleasant but inevitable occurrence is that eventually everybody will have bad breath, especially upon waking or eating something strong-smelling. This will usually go away after brushing. On the other hand, persistent bad breath that remains even after brushing might be a sign of gum disease. A stubborn bad taste in the mouth may be another sign.

What to do next

None of these symptoms necessarily guarantee dental trouble, but for anyone observing one or more of these signs, an excellent next step would be to consult a dentist for an examination. A dentist can determine whether decay or periodontal disease is present and will recommend the best way to move forward.

Hartrick Dentistry provides dental treatments for patients of all ages in the Royal Oak area. Dr. Nancy Hartrick has nearly 30 years of dental experience. Schedule an appointment online or by calling 248-712-1149.

Posted in Oral Health

How Sleep Loss Affects your Job

sleep loss

sleep lossRoyal Oak and Birmingham, MI

Insufficient sleep is commonplace in American society. In fact, recent studies indicate that more than a quarter of American adults report receiving fewer than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night for more than 15 nights out of 30. Sleep deprivation is usually considered a private condition that affects the well-being of the individual sufferer, but lack of sleep was indicated as a factor contributing to such disasters as the nuclear meltdowns at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and the wreck of the Exxon tanker Valdez. 

On a smaller scale, insufficient sleep can have consequences in the workplace and on an individual’s job performance. What are these job-related repercussions of sleep loss?


Lack of sleep can, first and foremost, cause a sleepy feeling that is very difficult to ignore and extremely difficult to fight off. A 2009 study found that close to 40 percent of Americans found themselves unintentionally falling asleep during the daytime. Even more common are so-called “microsleeps”, defined by one academic study as periods of between .5 to 15 seconds characterized by a complete failure to respond to stimulus accompanied by slow eye closures.

Microsleep episodes can have results ranging from wildly dangerous (such as when they occur in professional pilots, drivers, aircraft controllers, or process workers in a plant or factory) to simply annoying (trying to remember a train of thought while composing an e-mail, or asking a coworker to repeat what was just said in a meeting). At a minimum, exhaustion can add seconds and minutes to tasks, resulting in a loss of productivity.

Memory and concentration

Even without lapsing into microsleep, insufficient sleep can make concentration more difficult even when a person is theoretically wide awake. Concentration difficulties can lead to errors or prolong the time it takes to do even simple tasks, which can result in a loss of productivity.

Furthermore, lack of adequate sleep can lead to poor decision-making. A 2013 study suggested that sleep-deprived people are less likely to be motivated and especially less inclined to learn new tasks.

Sleep deprivation can also affect memory, with consequences ranging from bad, such as forgetting a task or deadline, to mildly irritating, such as forgetting a password or where something was placed. This leads to a loss of productivity and a lowering of performance.

Workplace attitude

Sleep loss can also have a significant impact on a person’s general demeanor. It can, for example, lower the threshold for frustration and irritability, influencing how the sufferer behaves around co-workers and customers. Sleep-deprived persons might also be more susceptible to underlying mental conditions like depression and anxiety, which can diminish the ability to perform tasks and lead to a loss of productivity.


Lack of sleep is also directly related to a heightened tendency to become ill and can worsen existing physical ailments. A 2009 study showed that persons getting less than seven hours of sleep were approximately three times more likely to develop the common cold, potentially missing work to recover.

Prolonged insufficient sleep has also been shown to have a direct bearing on hypertension and coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. It can also lead to insulin resistance in diabetics. These outcomes can be fatal at worst and lead to hospitalizations at best, both of which cause extended absences from work.

Proper sleep and work

Whether it manifests itself in a truly horrific incident, such as a car crash or industrial accident, or as something merely more inconvenient, such as taking an unduly sharp tone with a co-worker, lack of sleep can play a role in poor job performance.

What can help someone who perhaps did not sleep enough the night before? If possible, a quick nap during lunch can do wonders for concentration. Caffeine, too, can help with focus and alertness. Recent studies suggest combining the two. Sleep reduces the amount of a chemical called adenosine, which causes sleepiness. Adenosine competes with caffeine in the brain, so coffee before a nap simultaneously reduces sleepiness and allows for the caffeine to start to work.

Coffee and naps can help with the effects of insufficient sleep. A better route, however, is to address its cause. Making sure to increase sleep can eliminate all these difficulties. If they persist even with 7 to 8 hours of sleep, it might be wise to investigate if sleep apnea has developed. If so, sleep apnea can be treated with surgery, machines, oral appliances, and even lifestyle changes.

Sleeping more can help one give the very best effort at work, which can lead to handsome rewards in the long run.

Hartrick Dentistry provides dental treatments for patients of all ages in the Royal Oak area. Dr. Nancy Hartrick has nearly 30 years of dental experience. Schedule an appointment online or by calling 248-712-1149.

Posted in Sleep Apnea

4 Signs you Need a Dental Filling

dental filling

dental fillingRoyal Oak and Birmingham, MI

Occasionally, teeth get small holes in them. Usually, it’s because of an abundance of lactic acid in the mouth. Lactic acid is produced by the bacteria Streptococcus mutans, which naturally occurs in the mouth and is nourished by compounds that chemists identify as “sugars”, including lactose (found in milk and dairy products), glucose (found in most starches), fructose (found in fruits), and sucrose (found in table sugar).

The lactic acid produced by s. mutans causes a process called demineralization in the enamel (the hard white outer coating of the teeth). Ions in saliva trigger remineralization, but if too much bacteria is present, the wearing can outpace the restoration. This can lead to pits, and then holes, in the enamel, exposing the interior tissue of the tooth (called dentin) to the acid, which can then wear away and expose the nerve. The result is a decayed tooth and, likely, accompanying pain.

When a cavity is just beginning to form, an increase in fluoride can reverse the decay, so the dentist may recommend a fluoride treatment in a cavity’s early stages. Past a certain point, however, the dentist will recommend a filling. A filling, as its name implies, will fill in the small hole in the tooth (cavity). Depending on where the cavity is, the filling may be made of silver alloy (more often found in the back teeth) or a tooth-colored composite resin (usually in the front teeth).

Early on, cavities may go completely unnoticed since they tend to hurt only when the decay has moved into the dentin itself, which is fairly far along in the cavity’s progress. Here are four signs that a cavity is forming and that a filling may be needed:

Visible to the naked eye

If a tooth begins to show a spot (most often black or brown) that does not go away after brushing or flossing, it’s likely a cavity, and it may be time to visit the dentist.

A chipped tooth can often cause the same risks as a cavity: a hole left by the chipped-off piece may go into the dentin, allowing for access to the nerve. Even if this isn’t the case, a chipped tooth often collects bacteria and acid, so if it does not immediately have the same consequences as a cavity, it still might in the future. Even a chipped tooth that does not hurt, cause discomfort from sharp edges, or alter the appearance will likely be a candidate for a filling or dental bonding – a process by which a dentist uses resin to fill the hole and then reshapes the tooth.


A cavity causes a hole in the outer, protective layer of the tooth, whose function is to protect the dental nerve. With a cavity, the dental nerve is more exposed to temperature variations. Hot or cold food and beverages – even breathing in very cold air – can cause discomfort. Dental sensitivity (especially if it suddenly appears or gets more intense over time) may indicate a cavity and the need for a filling.

Dental pain

The most common sign of a dental cavity is tooth pain. Sometimes this can happen randomly; other times, it can have certain triggers, like eating sweets, clinching teeth or consuming hot or cold food and beverages. If this happens consistently, it may be a symptom of a cavity.

Food or floss consistently stuck in the same spot

Everyone gets food stuck in their teeth from time to time, and it is not uncommon for floss (especially of the woven variety) to fragment or tear. But if food continually gets stuck in one particular place, or if the floss regularly tears in a specific spot, it might be a signal of enamel that is roughened by a cavity.

What to do next

Anyone who suspects a cavity should call a dentist to schedule an exam. After a thorough cleaning, visual inspection and x-ray, the dentist can determine if a cavity exists and, if so, will recommend the best way to treat it. Hartrick Dentistry provides dental treatments for patients of all ages in the Royal Oak area. Dr. Nancy Hartrick has nearly 30 years of dental experience. Schedule an appointment online or by calling 248-712-1149.

Posted in General Dentistry

Oral Health Hacks to Save $

oral health hacks

oral health hacksRoyal Oak and Birmingham, MI

Especially when the cost of seemingly everything is skyrocketing around us, who doesn’t want to find ways to save money? Preventative dental care may seem expensive, but it’s nothing compared to the costs you may incur if you ignore your oral health over time. So our family dentist in the Royal Oak area is focusing today on oral hacks that can help you keep money in your pocket while maintaining your bright smile. 

Snack smart

So hear us out: we’re not suggesting you skip your morning or nightly toothbrushing sessions here, but through the day, certain foods are known to help clean and clear debris from teeth. Pop a piece of sugar-free gum in your mouth after lunch to help clear food debris from your teeth and stimulate saliva, which helps clean tooth surfaces. Other foods known for helping keep teeth clean between brushing sessions? Raw apples, celery and carrots.

Brush with baking soda

Baking soda is known for being an ingredient that’s included in effective, chemical-free household cleaners. But did you know you could brush your teeth with it, too? Have you noticed that many toothpaste companies are incorporating baking soda into their toothpaste ingredients? That’s because baking soda is known to remove stains and brighten teeth. It’s much cheaper than toothpaste; a box of baking soda costs around $1 and will last for a very long time. It can be a bit messy and certainly doesn’t have a minty taste straight out of the box — it also doesn’t contain necessary fluoride — but it’s effective and can even be incorporated a few times a week into your usual oral hygiene routine. If you switch to brushing frequently with baking soda, be sure you’re receiving fluoride from a source other than toothpaste.

Rinse with water

No toothbrush at work after your lunch break? No problem! A simple — and cost-free — swish of water immediately after eating removes food particles from the mouth and between the teeth. It also washes away bacteria and acids that beverages can leave on teeth. Repeat the rinse several times for maximum effectiveness.

Gargle with hydrogen peroxide

Okay, don’t go getting ahead of yourself; read this entire section before you go throwing back a swig of that brown-bottle liquid shoved in the back of your bathroom cabinet. But seriously: because of its antibacterial properties, hydrogen peroxide may offer several possible oral-health benefits, including reducing gum inflammation, when swished and gargled regularly. However, our Birmingham family dentists say this hack comes with a strong warning: never swallow. Using hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash, while arguably a more effective disinfectant than commercial mouthwashes, can also, if done incorrectly, cause side effects and be associated with certain risks.

Here’s how to use it properly with minimal, if any, risk:

  1. Start with a typical 3% concentration of hydrogen peroxide — the same kind you find in the brown bottle at any drug store. Combine one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts water so that the solution you’re gargling is 1% hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Gargle and swish a small mouthful of the mixture for 60 seconds (and never longer than 90 seconds).
  3. Spit the solution out.

Oral health hacks in Royal Oak and Birmingham, Michigan

Hacks for oral health — even if they save you money — are not intended to replace daily brushing and flossing and routine professional cleanings by our Royal Oak family dentists at Hartrick Dentistry. To schedule your cleaning today, call our office at (248) 712-1149 or contact us online.

Posted in Oral Health

Is a Smile Rejuvenation Right for You?

smile rejuvenation

smile rejuvenationRoyal Oak and Birmingham, MI

Ever wish you could turn back the hands of time or find that evasive fountain of youth? Now you can, with a smile rejuvenation! Exactly as it sounds, a smile rejuvenation utilizes one or more cosmetic dentistry procedures to bring your smile back to life. A smile is usually the first thing people notice about each other. Something as simple as a smile can drastically boost a person’s confidence in both their personal and professional lives. But everyday wear-and-tear takes a toll on our smiles, along with subconscious habits like clenching or grinding our teeth, erosion of tooth enamel and eating foods or drinking beverages that stain our teeth.

Dental treatments have advanced alongside technology. In fact, in as little as two weeks, our cosmetic dentists in the Birmingham area who specialize in smile rejuvenation can combine conservative and diverse cosmetic treatments to help reverse the signs of aging in your smile. Today, our cosmetic dentists discuss some of the various treatments used in smile rejuvenation.

Dental crowns

Dental crowns are also called “caps” and are durable, long-lasting protectants for teeth that perhaps have been damaged by an injury or teeth-grinding. The natural tooth is covered by a customized crown, restoring the tooth to its original appearance and functionality.

Porcelain veneers

Porcelain ceramic veneers are thin, durable “shells” that adhere to the front surface of teeth. They are an excellent option for restoring the appearance of multiple teeth at once.

Dental bonding

Dental bonding restores damaged and discolored teeth to their natural appearance and strength. Our cosmetic dentists in Royal Oak can rebuild a tooth’s structure using the same durable composite resin material that is used to fill cavities. This is a great option when only one or two teeth need to be restored.

Dental implants

Dental implants are a multi-part solution to replace a single lost tooth or multiple teeth. The process involves inserting a titanium post into the area of the jawbone where the natural tooth is missing. The post eventually fuses into the jawbone and becomes the root for a dental crown that is created to look exactly like the surrounding natural teeth in color, shape and size.


Our dentists may suggest straightening your teeth as part of your smile rejuvenation. When thinking of orthodontics, most people think only of traditional, often-uncomfortable metal braces. But technology has come a long way! Invisalign, for instance, is a practically invisible treatment option that corrects a smile in a fraction of the time as traditional braces.

Gum contouring

Sometimes, too much periodontal tissue covers pearly whites or an uneven gum line distracts from an otherwise beautiful smile. Minimally-invasive gum contouring with our Royal Oak dentists who specialize in smile rejuvenation can help reveal more of your pearly whites and straighten your gum line for a rejuvenated smile.

Tooth reshaping

Just as it sounds, tooth reshaping is a quick and painless cosmetic dentistry procedure that repairs a tooth that is chipped, uneven, misaligned or cracked. The procedure involves scraping off part of the existing tooth’s enamel. Our cosmetic dentist in the Birmingham area will shape the tooth using a bonding resin that attaches to your teeth and hardens on them.

Teeth whitening

It’s no surprise that teeth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry treatments. Teeth can get dingy over time, and every adult can only benefit from a brighter, whiter smile. Forget the store-bought whitening treatments; a professional cosmetic dentist uses a far more powerful whitening gel than is carried in stores, and a professional dental team will protect your gums from burning during the process, unlike a store-bought treatment.

Smile Rejuvenation in Royal Oak and Birmingham, Michigan

A smile rejuvenation helps reverse facial aging by using one treatment or multiple treatments to restore your smile to its youthful brilliance. In fact, many of our patients report feeling better about their rejuvenated smile than they felt about their smiles in the glory days! To learn more about how your Royal Oak cosmetic dentist at Hartrick Dentistry can rejuvenate your smile, call our office today — (248) 712-1149 — or schedule a consultation online.

Posted in Cosmetic Dentistry