Dr. Ray Alavanja
Dr. Robert Pieters

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Monday- Thursday 7:00am- 8:00pm
Friday 8:00am - 5:00pm

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3 Teeth-Whitening Methods You Can Benefit From

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We all want whiter smiles. Years of drinking coffee and eating teeth-staining foods, combined with aging, have made our smiles yellow, gray, or even a little brown. That coloring can make us all feel a little more self-conscious of how our teeth look. 

Plus, if you need to take photos for an important life event or make a good impression at a job interview, you want to feel confident in your smile. 

If you’re like many people in the above situations, you want to whiten your teeth. But with so many options available, you might not know which methods will work best for you. Below, we’ll discuss three of the best whitening methods you can use and how you can benefit from them.

7 Tips for a Calm Visit: Help Your Child Cope With Dental Anxiety

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You know that your kids need healthy teeth and good oral hygiene habits. But every time your child encounters a new, unfamiliar situation, he or she dissolves into hysterical tears and frightened sobs. How do you help your children have healthy teeth if they won’t go anywhere near the dentist?

Your dentist understands that some children feel frightened and overwhelmed when they visit for the first time. Below are seven tips to help you prepare your children for their first appointment. Nip dental fear in the bud and help your kids feel comfortable and safe in the dentist chair.

Oral Side Effects of Medication and How Your Dentist Can Help

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If you’ve ever taken medication, you know that along with managing your symptoms, the medicine can produce some side effects. These side effects range from making you drowsy to making you jittery and everything in between.

But did you know that some medications can have side effects that impact your oral health? In fact, most medications, whether you inject them or take them orally, produce side effects that cause problems with your mouth, teeth, tongue, and gums.

Below, we’ll discuss some of the most common oral side effects of certain medications and tell you how a dentist can treat these issues.

How to Properly Care for your Toothbrush

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Your oral care routine typically consists of several steps. You brush and floss your teeth daily. You use mouthwash to freshen your breath and eliminate bacteria. You visit your dentist a couple of times a year for routine checkups. You may even undergo cosmetic dentistry to improve the overall look of your smile.

But if you don’t properly care for the tools you use in your daily routines, your efforts to maintain a healthy smile might not do you much good.

In the blog below, we discuss seven tips to help you properly care for your toothbrush. You use this cleaning instrument at least twice a day (if not after each meal) to care for your teeth. To further enhance your cleaning regimen, read on to learn how you should take care of your toothbrush.

Top 5 Dental Goals for the New Year

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Top 5 Dental Goals for the New Year

If you haven’t taken perfect care of your teeth in the past, the New Year is a great time for a new beginning. While you set goals to exercise more or to act nicer towards your family, why not set goals to treat your teeth kindly as well?

Boosting your tooth care habits gives you a brighter smile and helps you avoid problems like cavities. Below, you’ll find five simple, but incredibly effective, goals you might set.

Ghouls and Ghosts: 7 Scary Foods That Damage Your Teeth

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As a parent, you teach your children good oral hygiene habits. You show them how to brush and floss properly, and you schedule regular checkups with their dentist.  You even make sure their diet contains foods that strengthen their teeth. And this Halloween, you’ll closely monitor your kids’ candy consumption so they don’t develop cavities.

But do you pay such close attention to your own diet?

Because of the foods and beverages they consume daily, adults are more susceptible to damaging their teeth. Below, we’ve listed the most ghoulish foods and drinks that harm your teeth so you can better protect your smile.

Avoid These 4 Dental Health Problems During Your Pregnancy

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Pregnant women have a lot to look forward to during their nine months of anticipation. Friends and family members may shower you with gifts, you and your partner can remodel or redecorate to make a stimulating environment for the new baby, and you may even reprioritize your finances to plan your child’s bright future.

But among the many exciting tasks you face during pregnancy, don’t forget to take your health into account. Specifically, the physiological changes your body enacts to protect the baby during your pregnancy can have a detrimental effect on your dental and oral health. Even if you have strong teeth and healthy gums before your pregnancy, take care to get regular dental checkups and cleanings while pregnant before more serious problems develop.

Below, we’ve outlined the four most common dental health problems that plague pregnant women. If you identify with any of the following symptoms, contact your dentist immediately.

White fillings vs. Silver fillings: Get the Facts from Your Dentist

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Most Americans understand the importance of proper oral care. They may brush, floss, and take their family to the dentist for regular checkups. However, even the best dental care may not be enough.

Even if you do all you can to prevent cavities, you’re not entirely immune to them. Tooth decay can enter into even a small chip or crack in your enamel. And-as we mentioned earlier in this blog-cavities don’t hurt unless the decay reaches your tooth pulp.

However, once you get a cavity, you’re left with one option: getting a filling.

The question is, what type of filling is best for you? Your dentist can choose between silver fillings (amalgams) and resin-based fillings (composite). But you might want to know a bit more about these materials before your next dental visit.

White fillings Facts

White fillings, or dental composite, refers to tooth-colored resins your dentist can use to fill tooth cavities. This composite resin uses a blend of plastics and fillers such as silica and dimethylglyoxime to quite literally ‘bond’ with the tooth’s surface.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Dentists and patients alike prefer tooth colored fillings for cavities on front teeth, largely because of the material’s ability to match natural tooth color. White fillings also works well on the sides of teeth.

If properly applied, white fillings adhere well to teeth. Your dentist can also save more of your natural tooth’s material instead of removing it during drilling. Another reason patients appreciate white fillings is because of its relatively low cost. The cost difference is especially dramatic when compared to porcelain crowns.

Unlike silver fillings discussed later, white fillings attach directly to the tooth. Patients with a broken tooth can receive a white filling to restore the tooth’s shape. The same option may not work with silver fillings.

White filling’s resin composition won’t corrode with age. However, some bonded materials can chip away in time, particularly if patients have bruxism. For this reason, some dentists advise against using white fillings on biting surfaces, particularly on rear molars.

As for other potential disadvantages, composites can shrink during the curing process. Dentists follow strict procedures to avoid this problem, which may allow bacteria to invade unprotected areas.

White fillings also take longer than silver fillings, only because dentists have to keep teeth completely dry for the filling to adhere. In some cases, a longer procedure equals a higher cost. Check your insurance plan to see what coverage you have for white filling procedures.

Silver Filling Facts

Today, many people wonder about the safety of silver fillings. Over the past century, dentists have used silver fillings (which is really a blend of metals besides silver) for dental restorations.

Essentially, silver fillings are a mercury alloy that provides a strong, durable filling for tooth restoration.

Although some patients distrust the mercury element of silver fillings, the World Health Association considers silver fillings safe for dental patients. Mercury is essential for silver fillings’ strength and adhesion. Additionally, mercury occurs naturally in the environment, which makes it likely that people already carry low levels of mercury in their blood-even if they don’t have silver fillings.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The FDA recommends amalgams for any dental patient, age 6 and older, especially if the tooth decay is deep and/or in rear teeth. Silver fillings are less prone to wear than white fillings, which is one reason many dentists choose silver fillings for rear teeth that are more active in chewing.

The main advantages to silver fillings are their strength and durability, as mentioned above. Patients don’t have to worry about biting hard foods (although any filling can fail with enough repeated stress). Also, because silver fillings are so strong, they tend to last for many years with proper care.

Silver fillings also are the least-expensive option, partly because of their availability and partly because of their easy application. You’ll spend less overall time in the chair during a silver filling restorative procedure.

Of course-unlike white fillings-silver fillings do not match natural tooth color. Your dentist has to remove extra tooth material (even healthy areas) to make an adequate space for the silver fillings. Over time, some silver fillings discolor surrounding enamel, making teeth look slightly gray. And if patients drink excessively cold or hot drinks, the silver filling can expand or contract. When this happens, teeth may crack.

Finally, although the risk is small, about one percent of patients develop a mercury allergy. These patients may choose white fillings as an alternate treatment.

Dentist Facts

Your dentist stays up-to-date on dental fillings, whether they be composite white fillings or silver fillings. Take advantage of your dentist’s experience-simply ask if you have a question or concern about either filling option.

In some cases, especially if your natural tooth is weak or vulnerable to fracture, your dentist may recommend a ceramic or porcelain crown. Remember, your tooth’s integrity and strength are more important than any material you may prefer for your restoration. Always listen to your dentist’s advice and rely on his or her experience.

The next time your dentist finds a cavity, don’t be afraid to ask about your options. The more informed you are, the better your result.

Why Don’t Cavities Hurt? Answers to Common Questions About Dental Caries

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Since childhood, you have seen constant warnings about cavities. Your favorite TV shows likely featured them a few times. You probably learned about them in school, and your dentist probably explained them to you during one of your first checkups.

Luckily, you have never had to experience a cavity before. Your teeth have stayed healthy for years because of your close attention to dental hygiene. However, you’ve recently noticed some strange spots on your teeth, and you wonder if you have developed a cavity.

Below, we will tell you how to assess whether or not you have one of these dental caries. We will also answer several common questions our patients have about cavities.

  1.  What Are Cavities?

The term “cavity” refers to a hole in your teeth’s enamel. That hole forms because bacteria make the enamel decay. These holes start small at first, and you may not notice them. But as they develop, they can eat away at your enamel until they reach the dentin and pulp underneath. They may even cause a painful condition called an abscess, which we will outline later.

  2.  How Do Cavities Develop?

Bacteria cause tooth decay or cavities through their metabolic process. When they eat the sugars and carbohydrates that enter your mouth, they secrete an acid as a byproduct. And because these bacteria coat your teeth in the form of plaque or tartar, that acid goes directly onto your tooth enamel. Over time, the acid erodes the enamel away.

When the acid reveals the dentin underneath the enamel, the bacteria has a new food source. It settles into the dentin and other soft tissues, like the pulp that contains the nerves and blood vessels, and it causes an infection. At this point, the cavity has reached its most advanced stage.

  3.  How Do You Tell If You Have Cavities?

You might not always have the ability to spot a cavity. Small cavities may not exhibit any signs, and only your dentist’s trained eye would catch them at this early stage. But as they develop, you may notice symptoms like sensitivity as the dentin becomes exposed. You may also notice dark spots or even bright white spots. Eventually, your entire tooth may appear dark.

Additionally, as the cavity progresses, you may also notice these symptoms:

  • A bad taste in your mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Holes

You develop these symptoms as a result of the decay. If you notice any of the indicators listed in this section, see your dentist for a checkup right away!

  4.  Where Do Cavities Usually Form?

Cavities can form on any of the teeth in your mouth. However, they tend to form most often in these areas:

  • The back teeth-these teeth have more grooves, and they come into contact with food more often
  • The surfaces where teeth touch each other-food can become trapped here, and you may forget to floss
  • The backs of your teeth-these surfaces often receive less attention than they should

You probably can’t assess these surfaces well if you suspect you have a cavity. You don’t have the small mirror or pick that a dentist uses to check for cavities. Luckily, your dentist checks all of these areas at each checkup, so he or she will notice if you have tooth decay.

  5.  Why Don’t Cavities Hurt?

Many people assume they don’t have a cavity because they don’t feel anything. However, cavities don’t cause pain-at least not in the early stages. When they do start to cause pain, you have waited too long, and you will have to pay for more extensive treatments instead of quick and convenient ones. After all, you won’t feel pain until the cavity reaches the pulp in the center of your tooth. At that point, an abscess, or an infected hole could form around the tooth’s roots.

Abscesses don’t just cause pain. They can also spread bacteria to neighboring teeth or even other areas throughout the body. So don’t wait for treatment if you have a cavity.

  6.  What Treatment Options Do You Have?

Your treatment options depend on what stage the cavity has reached. If you catch it early, your dentist will simply remove the decayed material and give you a filling. This procedure is quick and cost-effective.

But if the cavity reaches an advanced stage and infects or kills the pulp, you may need a root canal and a crown. During a root canal, your dentist accesses and removes the pulp. Then, he or she seals the opening to prevent further decay.  He or she then files the tooth’s remaining structure and creates a mold for a crown. The crown replaces the damaged tooth structure. Despite the cavity’s effects, you will have a full smile again.

  7.  How Can You Prevent Cavities in the Future?

Good oral hygiene, regular dental checkups, and a low-sugar diet represent the best ways to avoid cavities in the future. If you have any questions about your personal approach for cavity prevention, ask your dentist.

How Does Diabetes Affect Your Mouth?

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 29 million American adults suffer from diabetes. And an additional 86 million adults have prediabetes. Without a healthy lifestyle, 15 to 30 percent of prediabetic people will develop the condition within 5 years.

During its early stages, diabetes can cause symptoms such as excessive thirst, fatigue, weight loss, and blurred vision. If left unchecked, diabetes can damage nearly every organ in the body, including the heart, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

But did you know that diabetes can affect your mouth as well?

Common Oral Problems Associated with Diabetes

Diabetes puts you at risk for a variety of dental problems. Some of the most common include the following:

Dental Caries (Cavities)

Your mouth houses millions of bacteria. When you eat carbohydrates, the bacteria digest the sugars from these foods and create a sticky film on your teeth-plaque. The acids in the plaque erode your teeth’s enamel, leaving them vulnerable to decay.

Those with higher blood sugar levels supply bacteria with a greater amount of sugars and starches, resulting in more acid and more tooth decay.

Gingivitis (Early Gum Disease)

Higher blood sugar levels make it difficult for your body to fight the bacteria in your mouth. And if you don’t remove the plaque buildup, it will harden into tartar, or calculus. The longer the calculus remains on your teeth, the more the substance irritates the gums along the base of your teeth. This can lead to swelling, inflammation, redness, and even bleeding.

Periodontitis (Advanced Gum Disease)

If left untreated, gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, or advanced gum disease. Periodontitis causes all the same symptoms as gingivitis, as well as:

  • Gums that pull away from the teeth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Changes in bite or denture fitting
  • Pus between teeth and gums

Because diabetes slows circulation and reduces the body’s ability to fight infection, individuals with diabetes are more likely to contract this condition. In fact, studies show that people with poor blood sugar control suffer gum disease more often and more severely than those with good control.


In addition to housing a multitude of bacteria, your mouth harbors a fungus known as candida albicans. Typically the immune system keeps small amounts of this fungus in check. But because diabetes weakens the immune system, the fungus may start to grow out of control.

As the fungus grows, you may develop white lesions or patches on your tongue, inner cheeks, and soft tissues of your mouth. These patches can turn into open sores, which may bleed when scraped.

Dry Mouth

Saliva plays a key role in maintaining your oral health. It regulates your mouth’s pH levels, and it deposits important minerals on your teeth to protect your enamel. Furthermore, saliva controls the level and activity of bacteria in your mouth. And it provides lubrication, so the friction between your teeth and soft tissues won’t cause painful sores.

Unfortunately, many individuals suffering from diabetes also experience dry mouth, or xerostomia. This condition occurs when the salivary glands cannot release enough saliva to fight bacteria or protect the mouth. In addition to causing a dry, rough feeling in the mouth and cracked lips, this condition can increase the likelihood of experiencing tooth decay and gum disease.

How to Care for Your Teeth If You Have Diabetes

Because diabetes leads to a variety of health conditions, you should do everything you can to control it and its side effects. You’ll want to follow your doctor’s instructions for managing your blood sugar levels, and you’ll want to report any signs of gum disease to your dentist.

Once you have your blood sugar levels in check, use the following tips to keep your mouth healthy:

  • Brush twice a day. Brush your teeth after you wake up in the morning and again before you go to sleep at night. Ideally, you’ll want to brush 30 minutes after meals and snacks as well. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid irritating your gums. Floss once a day. Although inflamed and irritated gums may make flossing painful, you’ll want to floss regularly to remove plaque buildup between your teeth.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Diabetics should avoid foods that cause spikes in blood sugar levels, especially candy, cookies, and soda.
  • Instead, aim to include foods that have a low glycemic index, such as beans, dark green leafy vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Quit smoking. If you smoke and you have diabetes, use your health as a reason to stop smoking now. Smoking increases the risk of diabetic complications, including gum disease. Talk to your doctor about ways to kick the habit.


Diabetes presents plenty of problems to those who suffer from the condition. However, you don’t have to let it ruin your health. With careful management and a solid oral regimen, you can keep diabetes and its complications in check.

Schererville Family Dentistry

1050 Caroline Ave
Schererville, IN 46375
Call us: 219.322.3232