Girl showing her tooth

Passing your back to school oral exams

Whether your child is going back to the classroom in person or virtually, start the school year off right with a Back to School checkup.

“Scheduling a dental visit at the start of the school year helps kids get back into the swing of things, as well as cleaning up a summer worth of sugary sweets and relaxed dental attention,” says Dr. Baker.

What to expect

Prior to coming into the office, you will be asked a series of questions pertaining to COVID-19, as well as have your temperature taken.

If your child is old enough to come into the office on their own, please wait in your vehicle to help lessen the chance of spread. If not, wear a mask. To comply with social distancing practices, there are few chairs in the waiting room.

While here, your child will receive a thorough overall assessment of their mouth—checking out the gums and positioning of the teeth. They may or may not get an x-ray at this visit, but they will definitely get a cleaning!

A sealant may be recommended for your youngster. A thin, preventive coating is placed on the chewing surfaces of your child’s permanent molars. Sealants work to keep cavity-causing bacteria and food from settling where your child’s toothbrush can’t reach and stopping cavities from forming.

Don’t forget to bring any mouthguards—we’ll check those too for damage or wear and tear.

Back to School Smiles

Make brushing and flossing fun in the morning to help start your student’s day off right! Sing a silly song while supervising them brushing, or have a silly face making contest.

Smart snacks make for stronger smiles. Sugary school snacks can be very harmful for children’s teeth, especially if they don’t have an opportunity to brush after enjoying them.

When purchasing back to school supplies, include a couple of toothbrushes—one for home and a travel one for classrooms or field trips.

Dr. Baker and Dr. Castile look forward to helping your student get his or her back to school smile ready! Call us today at (586) 992-9222 to make an appointment.

Welcome Dr. Evan Castile

If you think you see a new smile in the office, you are correct. Dr. Jeffery Baker and the entire staff is happy to welcome Dr. Evan Castile to the team.

As a former resident of Shelby Township and proud graduate of Eisenhower High School, located just down the street from the offices, Dr. Castile is excited to work with people and patients from his hometown.

“Dr. Castile has the right combination of clinical skills, compassion and personality to complement our practice,” said Dr. Baker.

While he had the usual elementary dreams of joining the Army, Evan’s professional fate was sealed in early middle school.

“I’ve always been interested in dentistry, but my interest was really sparked when I got braces in seventh grade,” he recalls.

He took an unusual route to get where he is, though. He started with a bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition from Michigan State University. “Having a better understanding of how the human body needs and uses foods and the impact certain diets can have on dental health has been very helpful in my comprehension of dental issues and oral care,” Evan said.

After graduating from MSU, Evan received his dentistry education at University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry, the same alma mater that Dr. Baker attended.

“I’m excited to be working with someone from the community I grew up in who can help me understand how to run a successful practice,” Evan said. “I would go by the office almost every day while at Ike (Eisenhower High School); now I’m seeing patients there. It’s pretty cool.”

When not seeing patients, Evan likes to be outside and active. In addition to mountain biking, skiing and other outdoor pursuits, Evan is a voracious reader of true-life science tales. Evan also enjoys volunteering with multiple dental organizations and mission events, including A Mission of Mercy with the Michigan Dental Association (MDA).

“At the Mission of Mercy, we work for three days, usually a university setting, offering free dental care to thousands of people,” he said.  For more information on the program, visit www.smilemichigan.com/giving-back/.

For now, Evan is channeling his energies into his new position at the practice. “I’m looking forward to getting to know the patients and helping them smile even more,” he said.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Evan Castile, please call 586-992-9222.

Office safety

A lot of time, thought and safety equipment upgrades have been made to ensure that new and returning patients of Dr. Baker, as well as our own staff, are safe during routine exams, cleanings and other procedures. We enacted these measures based on recommendations from the American Dental Association (ADA) Return to Work Interim Guidance Toolkit.

Here are a few of the safety initiatives we’ve put together to make everyone feel comfortable at our office:

Screening—You will be asked a series of questions about exhibiting common symptoms before your appointment and upon arrival. Your temperature will also be taken prior to admittance. If you are feeling at all unwell, please consider rescheduling your appointment.

Cleaning—We will be wiping down areas such as the counters, clipboards, chair rests and other high-touch areas thoroughly after each patient visit, just as we have always done. The fish tank is still bubbling away, but we’ve eliminated magazines and other communal objects. There are a few seats available for those who must wait in the lobby, but the staff requests people either come alone or have people wait outside.

Masked—Dr. Baker and the hygienists will wear masks and shields when performing procedures, while the front staff will use masks. This is for our health and safety as well as yours.  If you are being treated by one of our hygienists, a cone-shaped suction apparatus will be used by the patient to help block any fluid or air particles from scattering during a dental process.

Scrubs—All staff changes into or out of scrubs and “office wear” at the start and end of each shift. That way, we leave anything that might be a contaminate at the office and also don’t bring in anything from outside.

Purified—In each room and the front office, HEPA air purifiers have been installed to help clean and clear the air. Hand sanitizers stations are set up around the office for convenience and safety.

Thank you for understanding and working with us to keep everyone safe during this unique time. If you have any questions, please call us at 586-992-9222.

Dental visits during COVID-19

We are living in unusual times, but our teeth don’t know that. During this pandemic, people need to remain more vigilant and diligent in their oral care. Here are some extra precautions to consider:

Keep away- Virus or no virus, keeping your toothbrush separate from others should be a part of everyday hygiene. Put it in toothbrush holder, standing up solo in a cup or stored in its own separate area.  Try not to put the tip of the toothpaste tube directly onto toothbrush bristles, especially if you share a tube.

Keep it clean- Before brushing or flossing, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Do it again after doing your dental due diligence. It is also suggested to disinfect your toothbrush handle after each use. Use a non-alcoholic mouthwash to keep plaque away; but don’t use any that kills oral bacterial which may be determinantal to a healthy oral environment.

Keep on it- While your wardrobe might be enjoying a more relaxed attitude right now, going lax on your dental care isn’t a good idea. Keep brushing at least twice a day for two minutes and flossing once.

We are starting to see patients again. To help offset the backlog of patients needing care, we are adding additional days for treatments. For those with an upcoming appointment, please note the procedures we have put into place to promote safe and smart visits for you and our staff, including:

  • You may be asked to wait in your car until a treatment room is ready.
  • Please wear a mask or face covering when in the office.
  • Your temperature will be taken and you’ll be asked a series of health-related questions.
  • Please practice “safe social distancing” in the reception area. Consider having family member wait in your vehicle.

We have missed our patients and look forward to seeing your smile again soon and safely.

Call us today to schedule and appointment- 586-992-9222.

Resources: www.unitedconcordia.com;  www.mouthhealthy.org;  www.healthline.com

Going beyond checking for cavities

Scheduled visits to the dentist are more than just checking for cavities and  routine cleaning. Dentists like Dr. Baker and their professional teams are at the forefront of recognizing and preventing oral cancer. More than 51,500 people are diagnosed with the disease every year and it claims nearly 10,000 lives.

There are many factors that contribute to the cancers of the mouth, throat, tonsils and tongue. While oral cancer traditionally afflicts older men (50 and older) who indulge in tobacco (pipe and smokeless) and excessive drinking, the disease is also being seen in younger adults as a result of the virus HPV16.

April is oral cancer awareness month. While a professional checkup is the best way to detect oral cancer, contact your dental care provider if you experience any of these signs and symptoms:

  • Any mouth sore or ulceration that does not heal within 14 days.
  • Any abnormality that bleeds easily when touched.
  • A red, white, or black discoloration of the soft tissues of the mouth.
  • A lump or hard spot in the tissue, usually border of the tongue.
  • A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture, does not heal.
  • A lump or thickening that develops in the mouth.
  • A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, that has been there for at least two weeks.

The signs and symptoms of HPV-caused oropharyngeal cancer are a bit different and can go on for longer than two-three weeks and may include one or more of the following:

  • Hoarseness or sore throat.
  • A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, which has been there for at least two weeks.
  • Constant coughing that does not resolve.
  • Difficulty swallowing; a sensation that food is getting caught in your throat.
  • An earache on one side that persists for more than a few days.

April is oral cancer month awareness month and while COVID-19 has disrupted our typical routine, Dr. Baker and the Smiles by Baker team in Shelby Township want you to know they remain steadfast in providing clients any dental assistance they can during this time. Please call the office at (586)-992-9222 with any concerns.

Sources: Oral Cancer Foundation, American Dental Association.

Toothpaste, toothbrush and floss

Talking toothbrushes, water picks and more

With all the various dental products available to consumers, keeping your teeth healthy and clean has never been easier, once you can determine what dental hygiene routine is best for you.

Toothbrushes have come a long way since the days of the “chew stick,” a twig featuring a frayed end, or the hog bristle toothbrushes of the Tang Dynasty (619-907). But with so many options, it’s easy to wonder if you’re using the correct one.

Power up—Many people have turned to electric toothbrushes for that fresh out-of-the-chair feeling while others maintain their pearly whites using a hand-powered toothbrush. Manual brushing can deliver about 500 strokes per minute while an electric toothbrush averages 3,000 strokes per minute. Each option offers the ability to loosen food particles from on and between teeth.

Bring on the bristle—Whether you use a manual or powered toothbrush, you will need to determine what type bristles will whisk away plaque and grime. Most teeth will do well with soft bristles; and those with sensitive teeth and signs of enamel erosion, might prefer extra-soft bristles. Hard bristle brushes wear away enamel and are usually not recommended by dentists.

Toothbrushes are not the only tool for keeping teeth, gums and smiles healthy. Here is a rundown on additional oral care options.

Don’t be a fussy flosser—The art of flossing is important in the fight against tooth decay and gum disease. In addition to the tried and true box of floss, there are flossing products that incorporate holders, picks or sticks to help with flossing. There is no difference between flossing before or after brushing, as long as its done daily.

Pick it up—Water picks are becoming increasingly popular, especially with people wearing braces or have other dental additions like crowns or bridgework. Water picks are also easier to use for those suffering from arthritis. Water picks are easy to use and can get to hard-to-reach areas with greater easy.

Tip of the tongue—For fresher breath, many people turn to the tried and true method of tongue scraping to remove bacteria from the tongue. Some studies have found that tongue scraping can lead to an improved sense of taste and tongue appearance. Concaved tongue scrapers come in a variety of materials.

Have questions about good oral health habits or dental products? Ask Dr. Baker or one of his professional team members during your next visit.

National Children’s Dental Health Month

Proper dental health starts at an early age and there is no better time to highlight the importance of correct dental care for kids than in February, National Children’s Dental Health month.

Celebrate the month and elevate the importance of brushing and flossing with some fun activities designed to educate youngsters about proper teeth maintenance.

Toothy trivia—While in front of the sink, test your child’s knowledge (and your own) on all things dental with these fun facts:

  • Ancient Egyptians even brushed their teeth using a powdery substance made from pulverized eggshells and oxen hooves
  • The modern toothbrush was not developed until the 1700s, brushes with nylon bristles and ergonomic handles were developed in the 1930s
  • Which animal has the greatest number of teeth – dog, cat, pig or snail? A snail can have between 1000-12,000 teeth!
  • An average toothbrush has around 2000 bristles.
  • Americans buy more than 14 million gallons of toothpaste every year.
  • Teeth start to form before we are born.
  • It takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile.
  • A fossilized T-Rex tooth can weigh up to a pound.
  • Mosquitoes have 47 teeth.

Gummy games—Bring a smile to youngsters faces with these fun games sure to encourage proper brushing at an early age:

Toothbrush Tales: Make your child’s toothbrush the star of a goofy, adventure-packed story, but only when a child is brushing. Give the toothbrush a name and a voice and make Toothpaste, Floss or Mouthwash trusty sidekicks and give them a storyline.

Brush Your Body: Take the toothbrush, get in close and tells your child it’s time to brush teeth. But then pretend to scrub the child’s ears / elbows / toes / nose until they say, “No! My teeth, my teeth!” and show you how.

Practice makes perfect: Ask your child to help their favorite stuffy brush their teeth for them. A crocodile stuffed animal makes a great friend to practice on.

Other ideas to help celebrate National Children’s Dental Health month include:

  • Buy a bunch of colorful, soft and child-sized toothbrushes, along with a variety of toothpaste flavors, so a child can pick and choose their own dental tools.
  • Make up a song to hum to during teeth-brushing time.
  • Let your child select a special, fun timer to use only for toothbrush time. Dentists recommend two minutes of brushing.
  • If you haven’t introduced your child to the dentist, do so on your next visit. When a child see’s a parent experiencing a good checkup, they are more apt to have a good dental experience themselves.

New Year Resolutions for Dental Health

If you usually include a healthy effort as a New Year resolution, why not this year put your money where your mouth is, literally, and turn your attention to making dental health a top priority in 2020.

The cool thing is, even if your resolution doesn’t include brushing or flossing, many other typical resolutions will also have benefits on your oral health. Quitting smoking, eating healthier and limiting alcoholic drinking will all help improve your teeth and gums as well as your overall health.

Here are some good dental habits to begin the new year right!

2 x 2—Scientists say it takes 66 days (just over two months) to form a good habit. If you start today, by mid-March, the healthy routine of brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing at least once a day will be totally second-nature for you. Make sure one of those times is before bed to clean off the accumulation of food from the day.

See ya, soda—Soda, especially energy drinks, are basically liquid sugar, which is extremely detrimental to your teeth’s protective enamel layer and can lead to all sorts of oral health issues including decay and tooth loss. Diet or sugar-free sodas are not much better as the acid content in them can do serious damage to the drinker’s teeth. Consider seltzer water as a refreshing alternative.

Make a date—Resolve to making you and your family’s cleaning appointments within the first month of the new year; as well as scheduling recommended dental work like crowns, implants and fillings for later on.

Change it up—When you change out all the batteries (and recycle them!) in the house, don’t neglect changing your toothbrush. Old, crushed and corroded toothbrushes don’t clean effectively and are just harborers of germs and crud.

Healthy eating—You know the foods to avoid, but did you know that there are some foods that are actually helpful in protecting your teeth? Cheese and cranberries have been shown to protect tooth enamel by “sticking” to your teeth and forming a protective coating on the enamel, while other foods like apples, celery and carrots naturally help clean your teeth while snacking on them.

Present a new smile

Give yourself the gift of an even more beautiful smile this holiday season with a whitening treatment that will make your smile rival the shiniest ornament!

When your smile is gleaming white, the whole world seems to shine a bit brighter. A whitening session at our office is a quick, painless procedure that offers lasting benefits. We also offer at-home treatments, if you prefer.

Another gift that keeps on giving is a new veneer or a dental implant to cover up or replace chipped, broken or discolored teeth.

Like a beautiful bow adorning a gift, a stunning smile is something everyone can have, enjoy and share.

Call the office today at 586-992-9222 to make an appointment and have a happy holiday smile for seasons to come.

Cashing in on the Tooth Fairy

The trauma of losing a tooth is often softened by a visit from the friendly Tooth Fairy. But how much money left per tooth, though, is purely a parental decision, often dictated by how much cash or coin is on hand.

In Michigan, the average amount the Tooth Fairy left in exchange for a tooth was $3.33; Delaware kids receive an average of $4.46 per visit and kids in Massachusetts only get an average of $2.56 per tooth.

Here are some ideas for all the Tooth Fairies out there:

  • Remind children that the tooth fairy won’t be able to visit if their rooms are messy.
  • Keep a stack of $2 bills or some silver dollars handy for a unique deposit on dentals.
  • Give a special Tooth Fairy pillow or box and have your child begin a tradition of leaving it in a more accessible spot, like hanging from the bedroom door handle.
  • Cash strapped? Leave a fun fairy letter complimenting the child on their dental habits.

Children typically begin losing baby teeth at age six. If you have any concerns about your child’s tooth development, contact Dr. Baker at 586-992-9222.