Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer has three times as many victims as cervical cancer.  One person in North America dies of oral cancer every hour of every day.

The biggest growth in oral cancer is among non-smokers and the main cause is HPV (Human Papillomavirus). When caught early (at or before Stage 1), the survival rate is over 90%.  Dr. LaTocha's office has invested in the state-of-the-art VELscope® system for early detection of oral cancers. Call us today at (231) 436-7400 to schedule your simple, painless, and inexpensive oral cancer examination.


How VELscope Works

VELscope shines a special blue light inside your mouth.  Normal tissue reflects the light back in a bright, apple-green shade. Cancerous tissue, on the other hand, appears dark and easily noticeable. Even when no abnormal tissue is visible under white light, VELscope's light makes the cancerous tissue visible to the examiner's eye.


Preventative Care

(Routine Cleanings and Prophylaxis)

While many people consider the dental hygiene appointment to be simply "a cleaning" there is much more to the procedure than defined by that term. Routine prophylaxis is performed on a regular schedule (normally every 6 months) as a preventative procedure. During this appointment, a thorough evaluation and examination of the teeth and supporting structures is completed. Diagnosis of dental health is accomplished with complete periodontal probing and charting along with dental radio-graphs. Assessment of the soft and hard tissues as well as examination for decay is completed; routine oral cancer screening is completed as well. From the periodontal diagnosis, a treatment plan is developed and executed. If the patient exhibits no definitive signs of gum disease, the routine prophylaxis procedure is then completed with scaling and polishing.

The old saying, "the best way to stay away from a dentist is to go to the dentist" applies here, as well as, "an ounce of prevention". In a time in which we are all conscious of health care costs we need to consider the value of a routine dental hygiene appointment. If decay or periodontal disease is diagnosed early we can address the issues before they become larger or more involved, which can add to the expense. The cost of routine dental hygiene appointments is very minimal when one considers the valuable oral and general health benefits. Generally speaking the cost of a dental preventative appointment is still a great value when compared to many medical procedures or medical office visits. In the concept of a value quotient, the cost of prevention is far less than letting things go to an end result that is far more expensive.

Perio Protect

Perio Protect® is an FDA approved, non-invasive adjunctive therapy for the treatment of gum disease. Perio Protect® was voted one of the top 10 greatest inventions to come to dentistry in the last 25 years when it debuted. The system utilizes a soft flexible tray with an engineered seal that is used to contain and control the active ingredient to manage the patients biofilm and bacteria colonies in the periodontal pocket. The simplicity of the system is truly brilliant by design. The main active ingredient utilized in the tray is a hydrogen peroxide gel. While additional medications can be utilized in the tray, the hydrogen peroxide gel functions by breaking up the smear layer or biofilm that the bacteria resides in. Furthermore, the hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent that uses the cell walls of non-oxygen requiring bacteria. These bacterial types known as anaerobic bacterial groups are responsible for the most aggressive bone loss process in periodontal disease. A secondary effect of the process provides development of blood vasculature into the affected/infected tissues more readily. The Perio Protect® System has been shown to be an effective adjunct to patient's home care as well by aiding in continued prevention of further disease progression.

Although the Perio Protect® System largely focuses on periodontal disease, it has been shown to help reduce decay rates.

For more information regarding this innovative treatment please visit  www.perioprotect.com

Composite Fillings

Fillings are used to replace missing tooth structure lost by decay or fracture of the dentition. The old standard for fillings was silver amalgam or gold.


While few materials can compete with gold as a filling material, the demands of an aesthetically conscious consumer market has driven the market of tooth-colored filling materials. Aesthetics plays a great role in dental reconstruction throughout the 21st century.


Additionally many patients have a fear of dental fillings containing mercury. Silver amalgam has been replaced by direct and indirect tooth-colored filling options. For the consumer conscious of appearance and aesthetics, there is an option for restoration of minor tooth structure loss with a material that provides longevity as well as strength and aesthetic value.


Our office is proud to inform you, as a consumer, that we have not used silver (mercury containing) fillings in more than 10 years.


Emergency Treatment

Unforeseen circumstances can occur without warning. Whether it is an unexpected toothache or an unforeseen accident that causes loss of a tooth, we stand ready to support your situation.

Dr. LaTocha has 28 years of experience in treating routine dental procedures as well as managing unforeseen dental circumstances. Most surgical procedures can be managed without referral to a specialist. Although extraction is not always the ideal choice for treatment, sometimes no other option for treatment is available due to extreme decay or financial situation of the patient. When you're experiencing dental pain and/or infection, the last thing a patient wants to hear is that they need to go see the oral surgeon for their care and treatment needs. Many times this requires waiting days or weeks to see the specialist. Our office prides itself on same day emergency treatment to relieve pain. Managing surgical procedures in-house without referrals is a cornerstone to developing strong patient doctor relationships.

For further information regarding dental trauma or avulsed teeth open the tab labeled "Accidental tooth loss".

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Perhaps the greatest advancement in dentistry in the past 50 years has been the advancements made in implantology. Dental implants are small cylinder-shaped fixtures that are surgically placed in the bone to support a crown or fixed bridge.


In the case of a patient with dentures, implants can even be used to support and retain the dentures. This provides increased comfort and function as well as decrease the volume of denture acrylic necessary to replace the missing teeth.


Implants can replace teeth that have been missing for years. Recent advances in implantology allow for immediate placement of the fixture and temporary on the same day that the tooth is removed. Imagine extracting a tooth that has to be removed and having the option for replacement the same day.


Dr. LaTocha has teamed with Nobel Biocare (NobelSmile) to offer patients restorative options with implants. Our surgical placement costs are substantially lower than the average found at a specialist's office, such as an oral surgeon or periodontist.


Although extraction is not always the ideal choice for treatment sometimes no other option for treatment is available due to extreme decay or financial limitations of the patient. Dr. LaTocha is experienced in routine as well as advanced surgical procedures to make removal of a non-restorable tooth painless and efficient. Routine surgical procedures include: transitioning a patient from failing natural dentition, to complete dentures if no other treatment course is available. Patients that are apprehensive about surgical procedures typically leave our office relieved and often surprised at how efficient their surgical appointment was handled. 

Periodontal Therapy/ Periodontal Services

Patients with a diagnosis of periodontal disease have much to consider regarding treatment. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection caused by one or more of 11 different pathogens (bacteria). The supporting structures of the mouth, the gum tissue and bone, are affected by these bacterial groups. Our office uses a multi faceted approach to treating gum disease at every stage. Our office utilizes cutting edge technology to diagnose the specific pathogens that are the causative agent for each individuals periodontal disease. Bacterial DNA analysis is completed by providing a medical laboratory with samples of the bacterial flora that resides in the deep periodontal pockets identified by periodontal probing at the dental hygiene prevention appointment. Our office proudly utilizes the Micro-ID System to provide patients with specific data regarding the Micro-ID System. Follow the link for more information. 

Our office chooses to address periodontal disease with the use of a Perio Protect tray therapy for 3-4 weeks prior to initiating scaling and root planing therapy (which removes hard deposits or calculus from the teeth and root surfaces above and below the gum line). Cleaning these deposits from the root and crown structure of the teeth further reduce the overall bacterial counts. Ultrasonic instrumentation aids in the process of breaking up bacterial colonies and further reducing the biofilm that the bacteria survive in. Once the affected areas have been treated with the above cited techniques the patient completes the specified antibiotic regimen outlined by the Micro-ID laboratory report and continues home care with the Perio Protect System. Re-evaluation is completed at the 3 month interval.


Numerous research studies have linked periodontal disease and systemic disease states. Medicine and dentistry have been further pushed closer to a common goal to provide health and quality of life to our mutual patients. 

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Unfortunately, many people have had their teeth extracted due to consequences of life experiences. In other cases, the dentition has broken down beyond repair. Dentures are a reasonable replacement for the above situations. Properly fabricated dentures can provide patients with a functional and aesthetically pleasing replacement of their teeth.


The American Dental Association places the life of a complete denture at 5 years. The value of a properly fitted and fabricated prosthesis not only lies in the longevity of the prosthesis itself but also in the functionality and aesthetic value of the prosthesis.


Economy dentures almost certainly fall short in functionality and aesthetics. Due to poor material selection, they will always fall short in durable longevity. When you compare the percentage cost of high quality prosthesis versus an economy replacement, the additional cost to have improved quality and materials is minimal.


With high-grade resin base materials, as well as improved hardness, dentured teeth will most certainly provide years of service from the prosthesis. Balancing of aesthetic and neuromuscular demands will provide comfort for chewing and provide optimum appearance for the patient's most important benefit: Restoration of the smile and aesthetics.

Loose - Ill Fitting Dentures

Over time minor changes in the fit of properly fabricated and fitted dentures will occur. Studies show that even the best denture causes ¼ mm of bone loss of the supporting ridge per year. Additional studies show that as a denture becomes ill fitting, the bone resorption beneath the denture base increases. The greatest remodeling of the ridge below the denture base is known to occur in the first two years of use.


Solutions for these issues can usually be addressed in two ways:


The primary method for treatment of poorly fitting dentures is to do a laboratory-processed reline. Relining a denture base provides acrylic replacement in areas of change that have occurred since initial fabrication.


The second solution, for patients wishing to have better retention from their prosthesis, is to place dental implants to keep the denture in place. While implants can be placed in the top or the bottom jaw to increase stability and retention of the denture base, most often this is usually preformed in the lower jaw.


Most patients feel that standard upper dentures allow for adequate function. However, the standard dentures in the lower jaw usually have many functional shortfalls in regard to use. Placing two small dental implants in the front part of the lower jaw can provide retention and stability that most patients find life changing. 

Bridgework - Fixed Partial Denture

For many unfortunate reasons, tooth loss does occur readily in our society. For those looking to replace missing teeth, one such way is to “bridge  the space” with a prosthesis (bridge or partial denture) to replace both form and function.


The best explanation of fixed bridgework is to visualize the teeth on each side of the space to be restored with crowns. The space itself is then filled with its own replacement resembling a crown, with all three hooked or soldered together. In reality the prosthesis is fabricated in one solid piece or laboratory process.


Straits Area Dental offers Lava bridges from 3M ESPE and Procera products from Nobel Biocare. For more information on these products see www.nobelbiocare.com

While not as popular as it once was before dental implants became more mainstream, fixed bridge work is still a very reliable replacement for single or multiple missing teeth.

Teeth Whitening - Bleaching

An ever-conscious consumer market has driven demand for aesthetic dentistry forward. Many people are very interested in whitening or bleaching their teeth.


Bleaching can be accomplished by means of two chemical processes. Differing concentrations of products can be used to obtain great results.


Our office uses two different systems for bleaching vital teeth. The first and most convenient system, Crest Whitestrips, is made by Crest. This system utilizes bleach impregnated into a moldable strip that is adapted to the teeth. Strips are usually worn up to two times a day for up to 30 minutes each application.


For teeth that have a difficult intrinsic stain, bleaching can more predictably reach a favorable result through overnight tray use. This process requires simple dental impressions to fabricate custom trays for the patient to use. The trays contain and hold the bleach solution to the tooth structure.


Many people are aware of in-office, one-hour bleaching procedures as presented on extreme-makeover television programming. We do not use this form of bleaching because independent research shows poor long-term results. Studies reinforce that the bleaching from in-office treatments with activating lights will relapse to or near pre-treatment shade within about one week.

Root Canal Therapy

If tooth structure is lost due to decay or a deep fracture, it can require us to use more extensive procedures to save the tooth. Root canal therapy is performed to remove the nerve or pulp tissue from the inside of the tooth.


Abscessed teeth are treated with root canal therapy to prevent and eliminate the infection of the affected tooth. Root canal therapy can usually be preformed on any tooth in the mouth that has pain or an obvious abscess. On rare occasion, referral to  a specialist may be necessary to provide the root canal procedure.


Teeth treated with root canal therapy most often require crowns to restore the tooth to normal function. There are two reasons for this:


First we are aiming to restore the missing part of the tooth back to function.

We are helping to prevent the tooth from future fracture that would compromise its usefulness.


Recent scientific studies have found that the best results are achieved if the crown is completed within 30 days of the root canal procedure. Failure to follow through with a crown will allow micro leakage into filled root canal space.


Newly developed rotary file instruments make endodontic therapy much more comfortable than older techniques. Most patients can have root canal therapy completed in about an hour and return to work with little or no post-operative sensitivity. Irrigants are used to reduce bacterial counts as well as improve the operation of rotary instrumentation, which has streamlined the process from past standards.

Cosmetic Dentistry

Straits Area Dental offers common cosmetic procedures, including both whitening and veneers. However, many people don't realize that there is much more to cosmetic dentistry than whitening and veneers.


For example, tooth-colored fillings and all-ceramic crowns offer the latest in technology to aesthetically conscious patients. Advances in pressed ceramic porcelains alone have revolutionized the choices we have for aesthetic restoration of all teeth (front and back). The ability to place veneers to enhance contours as well as change the shade of a person's front and/or back teeth can result in a life-changing transformation.


Badly broken down teeth require a restorative option that offer the remaining tooth strength to prevent further fracture.


A crown (or "cap," as it has been traditionally called) provides three-dimensional strength to a badly compromised tooth. Strength is gained around the remaining tooth structure by using either a cast metal replacement of the missing structure or a combination of metal and ceramic to provide strength and aesthetics.


Newly developed lab processes allow for metal-free, full-porcelain restorations.


Gold has been used for decades as a restorative material for crowns. It still remains the benchmark standard in the industry for reconstructing teeth in the back. This is because it has wear resistance that closely matches the natural tooth structure. However, many people are opposed to gold as a restorative material for crowns simply because they prefer something that looks more natural.


Older hybrid crown concepts are still readily used today by many dental offices and provide years of adequate service. However, many female patients show signs of gingivitis around the base of the crown. This is usually due to sensitivity to nickel or other metals that women develop over time from wearing jewelry.


New material science and procedures have opened the door to metal-free crowns. The beauty and aesthetic value of these restorations allow for reconstruction of a badly broken tooth to form and function near its original uncompromised strength and appearance.


Straits Area Dental uses advanced porcelain products such as Procera and Zirconia which are available from NobelSmile, a leader in dental technology.  For more information about these products please follow the link to www.nobelprocera.com or www.bruxzir.com

Our latest technology upgrade, our office has purchased, will streamline the workflow and comfort for crown placement. The Dentsply Sirona Primescan, digital optical scanner, will virtually eliminate the need for traditional impressions for crowns and bridgework. Patients will no longer have to endure a tray loaded with impression material to capture the working information to have a crown fabricated for their tooth. Digital intraoral scanning with a small wand will capture the information necessary to fabricate the crown. No longer will a patient have to endure the discomfort and time necessary to capture the necessary data. Our workflow is designed around efficiency, quality, and patient comfort.

For more information about this revolutionary technology please follow this link www.primescan.com