How can we help you?
We strongly encourage and invite questions from our patients. An educated and informed patient is a patient who is empowered to take control over his or her own healthcare. Please take a look through this selection of questions our patients often ask. If your question is not answered here or if you’d like further information, please give us a call at 715-849-5667
How to Choose a Cosmetic Dentist
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Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps prevent tooth decay in three main ways:
- Fluoride can stimulate a process called remineralization, which helps reverse the effects of early tooth decay. Remineralization is the opposite of demineralization, which occurs when acids eat away at teeth, creating weak spots and eventually leading to cavities.
- Fluoride strengthens teeth and makes them more resistant to tooth decay and damage.
- Fluoride interferes with the metabolic processes of the bacteria that cause tooth decay, stopping them from producing the harmful acids that damage teeth.
Since water fluoridation programs begin, tooth decay in communities with fluoridated drinking water has decreased by at least 25% in both kids and adults! In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined water fluoridation in communities to be one of the greatest public health achievements of the twentieth century! While it’s possible to consume an excess of fluoride and experience side effects like fluorosis, which leaves chalky white marks on your teeth, it is essentially impossible to do this by drinking water.
If you live in an area that doesn’t have fluoridated water, you are on a private well, or you exclusively drink filtered or bottled water, let us know. We can apply a fluoride varnish after your cleanings to help you get the positive benefits of this valuable mineral.
Plaque is a sticky substance that forms on teeth when food bits and bacteria mix with saliva and are allowed to build up, creating a film on the surface of your teeth. Good brushing and flossing habits help to keep plaque at bay. The plaque not only looks unsightly, the bacteria in plaque are frequently a culprit in bad breath.
If plaque is not removed promptly, it will harden into tartar, which requires removal by a professional. Tartar build-up can lead to cavities and gum disease. Regular cleanings as recommended by your dental hygienist will help eliminate plaque and tartar and prevent gum disease and decay.
The fact is, no matter how diligently you brush your teeth, it’s virtually impossible to remove all traces of plaque from your teeth, particularly in the spaces between your teeth and just below your gumline. Think of your routine professional cleanings as an opportunity for a “fresh start!”
Your comfort is important to us. If you’ve been putting off a cleaning because of fears, please let us know. We have sedation options available that can make it easier for you to get the routine preventive treatment you need. These routine treatments help you avoid more serious conditions later on.
Digital X-rays and KaVo Dental Laser
While pain is frequently a signal that something is wrong, teeth are unusual. In most cases, no discomfort is noticed at all until a dental problem is well-developed. In fact, pain is often one of the last symptoms that people experience when they have a cavity.
Here’s the problem with this – by the time you feel pain, the nerve of your tooth may be involved, and the problem can no longer be solved with conservative measures. You may need a root canal and a crown to treat the damage and save the tooth.
At our office, we prefer to practice proactive, preventive care. This means that we want to head off problems early while conservative and simple treatment is still an option. Our patients greatly prefer this approach as well!
To help us with this, we rely on advanced technology such as digital x-rays and the KaVo DIAGNOdent laser to identify tiny cavities or cavities hidden under the enamel, which are not visible by the naked eye.
Regular preventive care appointments are a necessity because these provide you with an opportunity for us to catch small problems before they can grow into big problems. This means simpler, more comfortable, less costly dentistry, which is something that makes everyone happy!
X-rays are one of our most effective diagnostic tools. They help us to see what is going on beneath the surface of your teeth and underneath your gums. This allows us to identify small problems, which often have no symptoms at all, so we can treat them before they develop into big, painful problems.
We understand that many of our patients might be concerned about the amount of radiation that they might be exposed to because of dental x-rays. Rest assured that even traditional film dental x-rays expose you to a very small amount of radiation. At our office, we take your safety a step further and rely on digital x-rays, which expose you to up to 90% less radiation than even traditional film x-rays!
We also do our best to only take x-rays when necessary. This will depend a great deal on your individual needs. If you are prone to cavities or other problems – or we are tracking an ongoing concern like bone loss, we will likely recommend more frequent x-rays. If you are overall healthy, however, with few dental concerns, we can take x-rays less frequently. We will still recommend x-rays on a schedule, however, because they are the best way to catch problems early so they can be treated with simple, conservative treatments.
Just like adults, teenagers are sensitive about their appearance – maybe even more so! For many, spending a year or two in braces can be an anxiety-producing proposition.
Invisalign Teen, on the other hand, provides an attractive alternative to traditional bracket-and-wire braces. Because Invisalign aligners are made of clear, BPA-free plastic, they are virtually invisible when they are in place, leading many to refer to them as “invisible braces!”
Not every teen is a candidate, and we’ll need to schedule an evaluation and consultation to determine whether your child’s specific orthodontic needs can be met by Invisalign Teen.
It’s also important to consider your child’s habits and level of responsibility. Because Invisalign is removable, your child will need to be responsible for wearing the aligners as recommended, switching them out as directed, and removing them before eating and for oral hygiene. Aligners should be worn at least 22 hours per day for the best results, and the translucency of the aligners can make them easy to misplace!
To schedule your teenager’s consultation, please call our office at (715) 849-5667. We’ll consider all the relevant factors and help you determine whether Invisalign Teen is a good choice for your child.
While many patients come to our office because they are unhappy with the appearance of their teeth, crooked teeth are more than just a cosmetic dental issue.
Misalignments also greatly affect the health of your teeth. When you have crooked, twisted, or overlapping teeth, it's difficult to brush and floss them properly, which allows bacteria, plaque, and tartar to build up. Over time, this build-up can contribute to cavities and gum disease.
Additionally, dental misalignments affect your bite, or the way your teeth come together. Over time, this leads to excessive wear on certain areas of your teeth, erosion, and fractures. Other problems associated with dental misalignments include chronic clenching and grinding (known as “bruxism”) and temporomandibular joint dysfunctions (TMJ or TMD). These problems in turn lead to pain in your jaw, neck, shoulders, and head. They are also associated with migraines.
Schedule an assessment at our Wausau dental office so we can consider your orthodontic options. Many patients can benefit from Invisalign, a clear, plastic aligner system that doesn’t rely on metal brackets and wires. Because the system is removable, it also allows you to enjoy your favorite foods and keep us with good oral hygiene more easily.
Call our office today to learn more.
Have you considered making a significant change to the appearance of your smile? Then you might benefit from dental veneers.
Dental veneers are a permanent solution for a variety of cosmetic dental flaws. Using these thin but durable stain-resistant porcelain shells can improve the appearance of:
- Discolored teeth
- Short or worn down teeth
- Widely spaced teeth
- Minor misalignments
- Chips, cracks, and other esthetic damage
Dental Veneers in Wausau, WI
You might not realize this, but veneers are often the secret behind the flawless smile of our favorite celebrities! Today, veneers are simple to place and much more affordable, which means that just about everyone can have a smile they are proud of and eager to show off.
Because veneers do require us to remove a small amount of your natural enamel, it’s important to recognize that placing veneers will result in a permanent change in your teeth. The veneers themselves can last as long as ten years with good home health care habits and regular visits to our office. While the veneer can’t develop cavities, the natural tooth structure beneath it still can, so it’s important to keep up a good oral health routine.
The answer, unfortunately, is yes. Smoking is absolutely going to affect cosmetic dentistry procedures – and any other type of dental procedure. Not only does smoking make it more likely that you may need dental treatment, it makes that treatment harder to provide.
As you probably already know, smoking creates a host of dental health risks and complications, which must be taken into account before performing a cosmetic dentistry procedure.
For example, smokers are at a higher risk for developing gum disease, bone damage, and inflammation of oral tissue, as well as throat and oral cancers. This can create problems with cosmetic dentistry procedures such as dental implants, affecting the success of the procedure and the long-term prognostics of the implant. Your ability to heal properly is impacted by smoking. Smoking increases the chance that dental implants will not correctly integrate into existing bone tissue. Gum diseases caused by smoking can also cause implants to fail.
Implants aren’t the only procedure affected by smoking. The stains caused by smoking will negate any benefits you may get from tooth whitening and will stain restorations like crowns and porcelain veneers. If you are a smoker, the best thing to do is quit before you get a cosmetic dentistry procedure.
If you need help quitting, please talk to us.
Professional Teeth Whitening
Although over-the-counter teeth whitening kits are cheaper than professional whitening procedures and promise the same results, we cannot recommend them for a number of reasons:
- The concentration of the bleaching ingredient is much lower, which can give you uneven results. Your whitening treatment will also take considerably longer, which can cause sensitivity for many people.
- These products do not allow the customization available with professional whitening products. We provide you with customized trays made from actual models of your own teeth!
- Using the kits improperly or for too long can cause damage to your enamel.
- The product can be highly irritating if it gets on your soft tissues, such as your lips, teeth, or gums.
When you choose professional whitening, you can count on getting good results. We will monitor you throughout your process to make sure your whitening treatment is going well and you are getting the results you want.
We also recommend a professional cleaning before your whitening treatment. This will help make sure that no plaque or tartar is in the way, which can lead to uneven results.
If you have questions or concerns at any time during your whitening process, feel free to call our office! We are here to help (yet another advantage of professional teeth whitening services!).
Have you noticed that your smile just isn’t as bright as it used to be?
Several factors can cause teeth to become discolored:
- Using tobacco (cigarettes or smokeless tobacco) or drinking a lot of coffee or tea can stain teeth over time.
- Certain medications may affect tooth color if they are taken while the teeth are still developing.
- Too much fluoride intake can cause discoloration, a condition called fluorosis.
- Discoloration is also a normal process associated with aging. As tooth enamel wears down naturally over time, teeth become duller and less white.
The good news is that you don’t have to deal with a dull smile that ages your appearance.
If you are unhappy with the appearance or shade of your teeth, give us a call to schedule your free consultation with Dr. Kim. We have options ranging from teeth whitening to dental veneers that can put the sparkle back into your smile.
During your consultation, Dr. Kim will examine your teeth and discuss your goals and your habits with you to determine the best way to solve the problem. Often, a professional teeth whitening treatment is all it takes to significantly improve the brightness of your smile. Certain types of stains, however, are more difficult to remove. Porcelain crowns or veneers can conceal the discoloration and restore your beautiful, youthful smile!
Teeth whitening, as the name implies, is a procedure or process by which discolored or yellowed teeth can be made whiter. It can be done by dental professionals at a dental office or using a dentist-supervised at-home system.
Professional teeth-whitening products, unlike over-the-counter products, target the set-in stains trapped beneath the enamel. The system is customized specifically for your needs, whether you are planning to whiten at our office or at home. If you whiten at home, we will create trays from an impression of your teeth, which helps you to get the very best results. Customized trays keep the product in contact with your teeth for the full amount of time and away from sensitive soft tissues like your gums or your lips.
Although it is possible to purchase teeth whitening kits on your own, for the best results, it is highly recommended that a cosmetic dentist custom-fit your whitening system. Additionally, we also recommend a cleaning before your professional whitening. When your teeth are free of plaque and tartar build-up, the whitening product can come into more even contact with your enamel for excellent results.
If you are frustrated by the current shade of your teeth and would like to roll back the clock on
Not right away.
Although a missing permanent tooth is a serious situation and needs to be addressed, dental implants cannot be used until a patient’s bone growth has completed, which is usually some time during adolescence. If an implant is placed while the bone is still growing, it may shift out of its place and cause problems in the future.
Space Maintainers for Kids
What you can consider is the use of a device called a “space maintainer.” This device prevents the development of surrounding teeth from being affected by the missing tooth. When your child’s bone growth is complete, the space maintainer can be replaced by a true implant. We will closely monitor your child’s development to most effectively plan treatment.
Dental Emergencies in Wausau, WI
If your child loses a permanent tooth, this is a dental emergency. Please call our office right away so we get you in, assess, the problem, and plan treatment. Not only can a missing tooth cause social stigma (which can be devastating for a child), the missing tooth can cause other teeth to shift out of place. This can affect your child’s bite and require orthodontic treatment.
Your child’s long-term dental health is valuable, and – just like you – we take it very seriously!
If you have any questions about your child's oral health or their baby and permanent teeth, please contact our office today. A friendly member of our team will be happy to answer all your questions.
A dental implant is a tooth replacement option made of biocompatible titanium that is used to replace the roots of missing teeth.
The post is surgically placed into the jawbone at the site of the missing tooth. As it heals, the post fuses to the jawbone and becomes a permanent part of your mouth.
Once the implant is stable, we can restore it with a lifelike crown (or other restoration, including bridges and even dentures) to take the place of the missing tooth.
Dental implants are the tooth-replacement solution that is most like your natural teeth. Because the implant replaces the root as well as the visible part of the tooth, it has an advantage that isn’t available with other replacement options. The implant restores the symbiotic relationship between the roots of your teeth and your periodontal bone, which allows the bone to maintain itself and stay strong. This helps to protect the health of your remaining teeth – and even the shape of your face.
You can care for your dental implants and crown restorations just like your natural teeth. While they can’t develop cavities, they can build up plaque, which can affect neighboring teeth and gum tissue. Brush your crown just as you would your other teeth, and return to our office as directed for regular check-ups!
Dental Implants in Wausau, WI
Placing a dental implant requires the bone in your jaw to have sufficient quality and quantity. If you’ve been missing teeth for a long time or your tooth was lost to advanced periodontal (gum) disease, the bone in your jaw may be too weak to support an implant.
Don’t despair! This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can never have an implant; it simply means that some extra work is needed to build up the bone and make it strong enough to support an implant.
This can be done using certain surgical procedures, such as bone grafting. During bone grafting, donor bone is used to restore lost bone. As it heals, your own bone integrates with the donor bone, creating a stable base that can be used to support an implant.
Sometimes anatomy can make placing a dental implant more challenging. For instance, if we are placing an implant in the upper jaw, sinus cavities can sometimes get in the way. This is why we are so careful to use imaging to assess and evaluate your facial anatomy when we are considering implants. If this is true in your case, however, a procedure called a sinus lift could make you a better candidate.
The best way to find out if you are a good candidate for dental implants is to call and schedule an evaluation with Dr. James Kim. He’ll carefully assess your needs and provide you with all your options.
If you are missing one or more teeth, you’ve probably been carefully considering your options.
Compared to bridges and dentures, dental implants do cost more, which can lead patients to wonder what makes implants so special and why dentists recommend them.
Dental implants have a key feature that makes them a big improvement over a bridge or a denture – the implant post, which is surgically placed in the jawbone. This post actually integrates with the bone and then functions similarly to your natural root. Bridges and dentures are only meant to replace the visible crown of the tooth, so while they complete your smile and help you look better, they don’t help you maintain your long-term dental health.
The root is an important part of your tooth and it actually works hard to help your bone stay strong. When the root is gone, the bone stops maintaining itself, becoming weaker and thinner. In time, this leads to more lost teeth and even changes to the shape of your face.
The dental implant stops this cycle. By functioning like your root, it helps the bone maintain itself and stay strong, protecting the long-term health of your bone and your other teeth.
Periodontal Therapy and Gingival Grafts
Gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease (periodontal disease), can often be identified by its symptoms, including red, swollen, or tender gums that often bleed easily.
Gingivitis is reversible if it is treated in the early stages; however, if it is allowed to progress into periodontitis, a far more advanced form of gum disease, it will cause bone damage and will no longer be reversible.
In many cases, treating gingivitis is as simple as improving your home care routine. We’ll review your routine and look for areas that need improvement. Even changing the angle at which you hold your toothbrush while you are brushing can make a difference! In other cases, an antimicrobial product might be prescribed to treat the developing infection.
Regular cleanings and examinations are necessary because gum disease doesn’t always present with symptoms. It’s crucial to catch gingivitis as early as possible for more successful treatment.
We take gum disease seriously at the office of Dr. James Kim. Did you know that gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults? Studies are increasingly connecting gum disease to serious diseases, such as diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes.
If your gums are red and irritated, or your gums bleed when you brush or floss, call our office at 715-849-5667 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kim to start treating your gingivitis now.
While early gum disease can often be treated with simple changes to your home health care habits and a good professional cleaning, one of the challenges posed by gum disease is that once it progresses past mild gingivitis, the damage it does is irreversible. The goal then becomes stopping further progression.
Treatments for Gum Disease in Wausau, WI
- Improving oral hygiene habits – We will review your home care routine and make sure that you are using proper techniques to get the most out of this important habit.
- Stopping smoking – Smoking contributes directly to periodontitis (advanced gum disease). Plus, it makes it harder to heal from the infection and treatments.
- Oral and local antibiotics – Gum disease is a chronic infection caused by bacteria in the periodontal pockets (the spaces between your teeth and your gums). Destroying these bacteria will help stop the damage they cause.
- Deep cleaning methods – Your hygienist removes plaque, tartar, and bacteria from beneath the gumline, smoothing out the surface so the pockets can tighten around the teeth and bacteria are less likely to reinfect.
If you have experienced severe gum recession, surgery is also an option to repair your gum tissue and cover your exposed roots.
Wausau dentist Dr. James Kim is skilled in treating advanced gum disease and performing gingival grafts. Call today for an examination and consultation.
Root Canal Therapy
For most people, the mere thought of a root canal is a scary prospect. But the truth about root canals is that they are not painful because you are numbed for the entire procedure. In most cases, the toothache that brings you to the dentist—usually signaling the need for a root canal—is far more painful than the procedure itself.
The root canal procedure is quite simple. Once the area is entirely numb, Dr. Kim will drill a tiny hole in your tooth to remove the infected tooth pulp. Working through this hole, he will use a set of specialized tools to clean out any infection and bacteria to keep it from spreading to your healthy teeth.
Once the area is cleaned out, he will flush it out, and in most cases, he will also apply an antibiotic to keep the infection from recurring. The hole will then be filled using composite resin filling material.
Because the tooth structure that remains will likely be brittle, a crown is usually placed over it to strengthen and protect it. Once the procedure is finished, your tooth will be restored to its full functionality, and you will no longer be at risk of tooth loss.
Appliance Therapy for Grinding, Clenching, and Headaches
A migraine headache is incredibly painful and debilitating… but what does it have to do with your teeth?
Actually, it could have everything to do with your teeth!
Migraines have a host of causes. Some people can easily identify their migraine triggers, such as excess stress or certain foods. Others, however, find that their migraine triggers appear to be a mystery. In these cases, a dentist can help.
Some migraines are triggered by bruxism, a condition in which the patient involuntarily clenches and grinds their teeth. This often occurs overnight, while you are sleeping. The constant clenching of the muscles is believed to irritate the nerves, which leads to a migraine headache. By treating the bruxism, we can prevent the migraines.
Treatment is usually pretty simple. A customized splint (often referred to as a “nightguard”) helps to stop the clenching and grinding while you sleep, preventing the muscle tension and nerve irritation. By treating the source of your migraines, we can prevent them! Splints come in different sizes and styles. Dr. Kim will carefully analyze your situation to identify the appropriate type of splint for your needs.
If you suffer from migraines and nothing seems to be helping, please call our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kim to find out if a custom-made night guard could help stop your headaches.
In plain speech, bruxism is a disorder in which a person unconsciously and compulsively grinds or clenches their teeth.
Causes of bruxism vary but can include stress, certain sleep disorders, or dental problems like crooked or missing teeth.
If bruxism goes untreated, the result could be painful headaches and migraines, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ/TMD), and tooth damage.
Once we understand the causes of your bruxism, we can recommend an appropriate plan of action. If stress is contributing to your bruxism, it might be wise to schedule an appointment with a mental health professional to find out if you can reduce the amount of stress in your life or the way you react to it. If a sleep disorder is the culprit, scheduling an appointment for a sleep study may help. If a dental problem is the likely cause, we can explore orthodontics or tooth restoration options to bring your teeth into proper alignment.
In the meantime, we can prevent pain and further damage to your teeth with an occlusal guard (often known as a “nightguard”). The nightguard is worn while you sleep when most tooth grinding happens. Depending on your needs, it can keep your teeth from coming into contact with each other or absorb the force from the grinding.
Studies show that as many as 1 in 7 people avoid seeking dental treatment because of fear and anxiety. Unfortunately, this often means that anxious patients don’t see a dentist until pain and other serious dental problems drive them there. This reinforces the idea that dental treatment is painful and scary and continues the vicious cycle.
At the Wausau dental office of Dr. James Kim, we’ve decided to be part of the solution. We want to make it possible for everyone to visit the dentist and get the care they need and deserve.
Dr. Kim is skilled in sedation dentistry and can use nitrous oxide and oral conscious sedation to help relax you and reduce your fear and anxiety. Additionally, Dr. Kim is one of a select few dentists in the state of Wisconsin who can use IV sedation.
If you’ve been putting off routine dental visits because of anxiety, you owe it to yourself to find out more about sedation dentistry and how it can help. Routine visits are important to help prevent dental emergencies. Call us today to find out more about how sedation dentistry can turn your dental visit into a pleasant, relaxing experience.
While sedation dentistry can be appropriate for children in certain specific circumstances, we want to ensure the safety of our patients.
Children’s bodies are not the same as adults. They have specific needs, and providing medication (including sedation) is not as simple as just “cutting the dose.” There are many factors that need to be taken into account.
For this reason, we recommend that younger patients who are in need of sedation dentistry should see a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists have received additional training in the specific sedation needs for children and have the necessary knowledge to ensure your child’s safety.
Children who may benefit from sedation dentistry include:
- Children who are too young to follow instructions or sit still
- Children who need extensive dental treatment or restorative dentistry
- Children with special needs who may have anxiety or an inability to stay still
If you like, we are happy to provide you with a referral to a pediatric dentist.
Our Wausau dental office can provide sedation dentistry, including nitrous oxide, oral sedation, and IV sedation, to our teenaged and adult patients. We follow all necessary precautions to ensure your comfort and safety throughout your treatment. These are our top priorities.
Dental fear and anxiety are incredibly common. Some studies estimate as many as one in seven people may experience such strong anxiety that they avoid dental care altogether.
Levels of anxiety can vary from mild fears to strong panic and phobia. This means that the way we address dental anxiety also needs to vary.
We are proud to offer several different levels of sedation dentistry to our patients. No matter what level of fear you experience, we have a solution for you.
Patients who experience mild fear or anxiety may benefit from nitrous oxide, more commonly known as “laughing gas.” This gentle sedative is inhaled and provides a calm or sometimes mildly euphoric sensation. The sedation effect quickly leaves the body after the mask is removed, which means that you can safely drive yourself to and from your appointment and resume your normal activities.
Oral sedation relies on an anxiety-relieving medication taken in pill form. You take the medication about an hour ahead of your visit, and it reduces both anxiety and sensation. This option is stronger and the effects linger for a longer time, so you will need a friend or family member to take you home following your appointment.
If you have a great deal of dental work to complete or severe anxiety, please talk to us. We can help! Dr. James Kim is one of very few dentists in Wisconsin to offer IV sedation dentistry to his patients. IV sedation provides deep relaxation. You also won’t remember much of your appointment. If you opt for IV sedation, you will need a ride to and from our office and you should plan to take it easy until the medication fully wears off.
Because each patient is a unique individual, we are careful to listen closely to your needs when we are discussing sedation dentistry and whether that can be beneficial.
The fact is – some people handle cleanings just fine but need mild sedation for more extensive procedures while eithers feel intense anxiety just at the thought of sitting in the chair. And that’s okay! We just want to know more about your concerns so we can adjust our treatment to suit you.
Sedation dentistry can be effectively used in the following scenarios:
- Children and those with special needs – We do not provide sedation dentistry for children at our Wausau dental office. Because of the variation in children’s bodies, it is important that you seek care from a pediatric dentist (a specialist who has had extra training in children’s dental care) if your child struggles with routine treatments. We are happy to provide a referral.
- Fear and anxiety – One in seven people avoids seeing the dentist because of fear and anxiety. If you are one of these people, please let us know. We have calming options that range from nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) to deep IV sedation.
- Long or extended treatment – If you require multiple procedures, sedation dentistry may be a good option. Sedation can help the time seem to fly by and often reduces your memories of the treatment. This also reduces the need for multiple appointments.
- Specific treatments – Some people do just fine during a cleaning but start to feel stressed at the idea of certain therapies, like root canal therapy or an extraction. If you feel your pulse start to race when we recommend a treatment, please let us know so that we can address your needs.