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Westerville: 614-682-6213 Lewis Center: 740-739-4240



February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

We are extremely passionate about kids’ dental health and creating a trusting relationship between children and their dental care providers from the very FIRST experience.

Here is a shocking statistic for you; despite the fact that it’s almost entirely preventable, tooth decay is among the most common chronic disease in children.

But we’re on a mission to change that!

There are so many safe and effective preventive measures that can protect your child’s precious teeth. Simple, but effective, oral hygiene practices such as thorough brushing with fluoride toothpaste can help keep children from getting cavities.

*Bonus info! It has been a common myth that children do NOT need fluoride treatments. Actually, fluoride is very beneficial in keeping teeth strong and preventing cavities during the critical age when children are still learning their way around proper brushing.

Two of the most common questions we hear from parents are, “do I need to brush my child’s gums before they have teeth?” and “at what age should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?”

Both are excellent questions!

Yes, you should start cleaning your baby’s gums and mouth even before the first tooth erupts. Use a warm, soft cloth to gently clean your baby’s mouth after feeding.

Your little one’s first visit should be around one year of age. Often, at this age, a full cleaning or exam isn’t completed during that first visit and that is okay! Really, the purpose of this initial visit is to help both the parent and the child start to feel comfortable. A good hygienist will spend his/her time making the little patient feel safe and secure, maybe by playing games, counting teeth, answering questions, or letting the little one explore the cleaning instruments/tools.

Here are a few more of our favorite tips for parents as they introduce proper brushing, visits to the dentist, and overall good oral health care habits to sometimes reluctant kiddos:

  1. Let them take ownership. Empower your child by letting them be involved in choosing their fun character toothbrushes and/or their favorite flavor of age-appropriate toothpaste.
  2. Make it fun. Our friends at Oral-B have teamed up with Disney to create a super fun, effective, and FREE Toothbrush Timer App.
    Download yours here: https://oralb.com/en-us/products/compare/disney-magic-timer-app  
  3. Incentivize and Celebrate. Use a toothbrush tracking chart, like the one below, and create a reward system. This is another opportunity to allow them to take ownership. Involve them in deciding what their reward for good brushing behavior will be.
  4. Watch snacks! Even the “healthy” all-natural, organic juices and gummy snacks can lead to cavities in your little ones. Our favorite options are always fruits, veggies, low-sugar yogurts, water, etc. And if they do have a sticky treat or juice, try to wash it down with water which will prevent the sugar from settling into the groves of the teeth until the next brushing.
  5. Our TOP Tip. One of the most important things you can do for your child is to make sure you find a dentist that both you and your child are comfortable with. Believe it or not, your child’s first experience with a dental office can shape their feelings about dentistry for a lifetime. With the number one reason cited for not seeing a dentist regularly being “a bad previous experience,” a good first impression is critical. Remember, they need to feel safe and allowed to proceed at their own pace.
Galentine Botox Special

Galentine Botox Special

We are so excited about our Galentine Botox Special!
But if you are asking yourself, what is a Galentine?!   Let us explain…

What is Galentine’s Day? 
Galentine’s Day is a day ( Feb. 13) dedicated to showering your girlfriends with love | Ladies celebrating ladies | Girl Power

Where did it come from?
It was created by a fictional character: Leslie Knope of the television show Parks and Recreation over 10 years ago.

Why are we celebrating?
We are all about #girlpower and Ladies Celebrating Ladies, so we decided to celebrate Galentine’s Day the entire month of February!

Treat yourself to $12 per unit BOTOX the entire month of February.  

BONUS: You’ll also receive a swag bag from your favorite ladies at Northstar! Including delicious chocolates (YUM – they are to die for!),
a $50 OFF Filler coupon (come back to get that #perfectpout), and other Northstar goodies.

What is Botox?
Botox offers natural-looking wrinkle reduction to refresh and renew your skin. Designed to remove and reduce wrinkles caused by muscle movement, Botox treatments block nerve signals to your facial muscles. The quick and painless procedure reduces facial muscle activity and temporarily prevents the contraction of muscles that cause laugh lines, frown lines, and crow’s feet.

What else can it do?
Botox has a long history of medically therapeutic uses, all involving muscular conditions. Botox can bring relief to migraine sufferers and is an FDA-approved treatment for chronic migraine headaches. BOTOX can also be used as a treatment for TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders and associated jaw tension and pain. When injected into facial

muscles afflicted with soreness and discomfort, BOTOX relieves TMJ and jaw tension for many patients.

What to expect?
Treatments generally take 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the area of the skin. The procedure consists of a few tiny injections, with very localized effects that will not impact your ability to smile, laugh, or show expression. With minimal discomfort and no downtime, Botox fits into your lifestyle and schedule.

Minimally invasive and very effective, you can expect to see visible results in 10 days to 2 weeks. Botox treatments typically last for 3 to 6 months.

Take advantage of our Galentine Botox Special
Our $12 per unit Botox special only lasts the month of February, so be sure to call to schedule your appointment today at 614-682-6216!
*Minimum of 20 units*

If you have any additional questions about Botox or Fillers, call our office for a complimentary consultation with one of our amazing doctors

Discover Allē: A loyalty program uniquely designed for you!
With an Allē Membership, you can earn points when you receive Botox, Juvederm, and other cosmetic treatments to use toward future treatments or products. Learn more here.

Please note: If you were a Brilliant Distinctions Member, you can still use your points – you will need to sign up with Allē using your existing Brilliant Distinctions® information.

Did you know that oral health and overall health are connected?

Did you know that oral health and overall health are connected?

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends practicing good general hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly, social distancing, and not touching your face. In addition to this, it is also crucial to practice good oral hygiene to help prevent you and your family from getting sick. Below outlines a few helpful hygiene tips to stay healthy.

Replace Your Toothbrush or Toothbrush Head Often
The best practice is to replace their electric toothbrush head or disposable toothbrush every 3 to 4 months. During the coronavirus pandemic, we recommend replacing them more often than this. Or, at the very least, every 3 months.

Properly Store Your Toothbrush
Allow your toothbrush to dry after each use by keeping it in an upright position. This helps prevent the spread and growth of bacteria.

Don’t Share Your Toothbrush
The particular mix of bacteria in your mouth is unique to you. When you use someone else’s toothbrush, you expose your teeth and gums to new bacteria which may not react well with your existing bacteria. This foreign bacteria can increase your risk of catching a cold, the flu, or other germs lurking on your partner’s toothbrush, even if they practice good hygiene.

Practice Good Health Routines
Maintaining good oral hygiene at home is always necessary to prevent cavities, gum disease, and other conditions. It’s more important than ever to practice good oral and overall health routines.
• Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time.
• Floss once a day.
• Eat a balanced diet.
• Exercise.
• Wash your hands often

Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings
Normally the body’s natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, keep bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease. Professional cleanings are the only way to remove calculus (tartar), which traps plaque bacteria along the gum line.

Botox Flash Sale

We are excited to announce our

Monday, November 16- Friday, November 20, 2020
$12 per unit (normally $14 per unit)

What does Botox do?
Botox blocks communication between motor nerves and the muscle, so that the muscles are unable to contract. When the treated muscle is unable to contract, the movement that causes the skin to wrinkle will stop. Over a course of up to 10 days after treatment, the skin above the treated area smooths out. The effects of treatment last about 3 to 4 months, after which repeated treatment will be needed.

What is Botox used for?
Botox is most often used to smooth out wrinkles in the forehead, the area between the eyes, around the outside corners of the eyes, the area around the lips, and the area between the lips and nose.  But did you know that Botox can also effectively help dental patients that suffer from high lip lines, TMJ, migraines, and teeth grinding?

Watch our video, as Dr. P explains how Botox works and what to expect during your treatment.

Take advantage of our Botox FLASH SALE and schedule your treatment for the week of Monday, November 16- Friday, November 20.
Call 614-682-6216 to schedule.
Minimum of 20 units. Limited appointments are available.

Coloring Contest

Northstar Family Dentist Coloring Contest

National Coloring Day is Friday, September 14th.
Color the Northstar Family Dental Tooth to be entered to WIN a $50 gift card to Target!


  • Click the link below to download the Northstar Family Dental Tooth
  • Print and color the Northstar Family Dental Tooth
  • Email a photo of your finished artwork to Stephanie@northstarfd.com
    Post on Facebook and tag us @northstarfamilydental
    Drop off at our Westerville or Lewis Center office locations
  • Be sure to include the first name and contact information of the person entering the contest
  • All entries must be submitted by Friday, September 11th

The winner will be announced on Monday, September 14th.
* This contest is for adults and kids of all ages. Have FUN and Good Luck! *

Click HERE to download and print the coloring page

Safety Update from Dr. Kulesa

Hello Northstar Family Dental Families,
We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. Dr. Kulesa would like to check-in and update you on our continued safety efforts at Northstar Family Dental.
As always, your safety is our TOP priority!
Please watch this video below.

What type of toothbrush should I be using?


What type of toothbrush should I be using?

Dr. Pheifer gives you two great options for toothbrushes, an electric toothbrush, and a standard soft bristle toothbrush.  Be sure to listen to Dr. P explain why we always recommend the ADA approved electric toothbrush first and foremost.

Click here to purchase the electric Oral B toothbrush that Dr. P recommended 


Click here to purchase the Colgate slim soft toothbrush Dr. P recommended.

Be sure to follow us on social media for more tips on keeping your teeth happy and clean! 
Facebook | YouTube | Twitter | Pinterest | Linkedin | Instagram 

Cold Sores

CO2 Laser for Quick, Effective Cold Sore Treatment

Cold sores — also called fever blisters — are a common viral infection. Cold sores spread from person to person by close contact, such as kissing.Cold sores are contagious even if you don’t see the sore.


A cold sore usually passes through several stages:

  • Tingling and itching. Many people feel an itching, burning or tingling sensation around their lips for a day or so before a small, hard, painful spot appears and blisters erupt.
  • Blisters.Small fluid-filled blisters typically break out along the border where the outside edge of the lips meets the skin of the face. Cold sores can also occur around the nose or on the cheeks.
  • Oozing and crusting.The small blisters may merge and then burst, leaving shallow open sores which will ooze fluid and then crust over.

Unfortunately, the blisters can be painful, cause patients to feel self-conscious and can last several days, with the blisters taking two to four weeks to heal completely.

HOWEVER, with the advanced technology used by our expertly trained and board-certified oral surgeon, patients can now experience significantly faster and less painful healing.

Using Dr. Julie Park’s CO2 Laser, if treated at the first sign of symptoms, the patient could see the cold sore heal completely in as little as one to two days!

The CO2 laser treats the cold sore with no anesthesia and is completely painless!

For more information on this, or other laser technology oral health capabilities, please call our office at 614-891-4242.

Sports & Protecting Your Teeth

According to a recent issue in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), more than 5 million teeth are avulsed each year; many during sports activities, resulting in nearly $500 million spent on replacing these teeth each year.

Each year at Northstar Family Dental we see a handful of patients with mild to severe dental trauma due to sports related injuries. The most common being soft tissue injuries (lacerations, etc.). The majority of the dental trauma cases we treat are tooth (crown) fracture, tooth avulsion (loss of tooth from its socket), or tooth subluxation (a tooth that has increased mobility but has not been lost).

As you may have already guessed, football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, baseball, softball and wrestling are all frequently to blame for sports-related mouth injuries. But did you know, recent studies by the JADA have shown that basketball had the highest injury rate with both male and female students due to hand or elbow contact or by collision with other players. The close contact of basketball players, as well as the speed of the game increases the potential for possible orofacial trauma.

When it comes to choosing a mouthguard to protect your child’s oral safety, you will find three choices:

“Off-the-Shelf” Mouthguards:

Off-the-shelf guards may be purchased from a sporting goods store, pharmacy, or a department store. They are made of rubber, polyvinyl chloride or a polyvinyl acetate copolymer. The advantage is that this mouthguard is relatively inexpensive, however the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. They are available only in limited sizes, do not fit very well, inhibit speech and breathing, and require the jaws to be closed to hold the mouthguard in place. These concerning limitations led the Academy of Sports Dentistry (ASD) to state that they do not feel that off-the-shelf mouthguards allow for adequate protection of the teeth and that the stock mouthguard is unacceptable as an orofacial protective device.

“Boil and Bite” Mouthguards:

This thermoplastic material is immersed in boiling water for 10-45 seconds, transferred to cold water and then adapted to the teeth (also known as “boil-and-bite” guard). While always better than nothing, the main issues we see with the homemade boil-and-bite guards are that they still don’t always fit properly, which decreases comfort and reduces compliance. (That’s right mom, you may not even know it but your kiddo may be popping that uncomfortable thing out of their mouth as soon as a parent or coach is not looking!)

Custom Fitted Mouthguards:

This is the superior of the three types. Dental professionals believe custom fitted mouthguards to be well worth the cost to protect an athlete’s teeth from injury. Most parents will spend quite a bit of money on athletic clothing and shoes, but might not think about taking the most cautious approach to protecting their child’s teeth. Made in a dental office, these mouthguards are specially created for each individual and fabricated using a vacuum method to form the material specifically to fit that patient’s mouth The advantages include fit, ease of speech and breathing, comfort and retention. By wearing a protective mouthguard, the incidence of a concussion by a blow to the jaw is significantly reduced because the condyle is separated from the base of the skull by placing the mandible in a forward position.

Lack of proper protection can lead to loss of a tooth and increased risk of fractured tooth or jaw. Not only do mouthguards help prevent orofacial trauma, they reduce the cost of these injuries in the long run significantly.

FYI! Reach out to your insurance provider as they may cover some or all of the cost of a custom-fitted mouthguard!

At Northstar Family Dental, we offer custom fitted mouthguards for athletes by appointment. The fitting only takes about 30 minutes in our office and because we have the appropriate technology to make the entire mouthguard in-house, versus sending it out to a lab, we can have the mouthguard ready for you in about two weeks.

If you call our office at 614-891-4242 and mention you’re a Columbus Mom’s Blog reader you can receive $10 off your child’s- custom fitted mouthguard!

In the event that your child DOES suffer from a dental related injury, don’t panic! Contact your dentist immediately. The tooth will be evaluated and treated properly. If the tooth is completely removed from the gums, place it in the child’s cheek or in milk to help preserve the tooth while you contact your dentist for further instruction.

Below, you’ll find a photo of a young man who broke his two front teeth. We helped him get back to as good as new in one visit, utilizing dental bonding, with NO numbing and NO drilling!

Anita’s Teeth Whitening Story

Anita has been a loyal Northstar Family Dental patient for as long as we can remember. And for as long as we can remember, our whole team looks forward to seeing her when she is in the office. She has such a joyful and kind personality and has the ability to light up our office.

So when Anita expressed interest in getting her teeth professionally whitened, we were so excited for her, knowing that the treatment would elevate her smile to match her bright personality.

One might ask why Anita chose an in office ZOOM teeth whitening treatment over a drug store DIY option? There are a number of advantages to choosing a professional teeth whitening treatment over the numerous at-home options available.

  1. Professional treatments offer more thorough whitening. When it comes to dull, stained teeth, there are often two kinds of problems: extrinsic and intrinsic staining. Extrinsic staining occurs in the enamel of teeth while intrinsic staining occurs within. Over-the-counter products are meant to remove extrinsic staining, while professional treatment can remove both extrinsic and intrinsic staining.
  2. In-office treatment is more comfortable. When you opt for professional teeth whitening, personalized trays are created for your treatment, allowing them to fit your mouth perfectly, resulting in little-to-no irritation or discomfort. Over-the-counter options come with a one-size-fits all tray or slippery, hard to manage strips that often don’t offer full coverage. As an added bonus, at Northstar Family Dental, we provide flat screen TVs, neck pillows, blankets, noise cancelling headphones – everything you will need to completely relax during your one hour treatment.
  3. Instant Gratification. Although over-the-counter teeth whitening products have been proven to show results, it can often take weeks and even months to actually see anything. With our ZOOM whitening professional treatment you can often experience 4-8 shades of brightening in just ONE appointment. You can literally walk away the same day ready to show off a brand new smile.
  4. Professionally monitored treatments result in little-to-no sensitivity. Another common complaint of over-the-counter teeth bleaching products is that they often result in the teeth and gums feeling sensitive and painful afterward. In the most dramatic instances, improperly monitored whitening products can result in hydrogen peroxide burns on the gums. Our team is highly trained to ensure effective and SAFE results. In the event of some post-treatment sensitivity, we also provide a take-home sensitivity relief gel.

Take a sneak peek at Anita’s ZOOM teeth whitening results:

Before ZOOM Whitening Treatment

After ZOOM Whitening Treatment

For more information about Northstar Family Dental ZOOM teeth whitening services or to schedule your appointment, please call our office at 614-682-6213.

Get the Scoop on Dermal Fillers!

Get the Scoop on Dermal Fillers!

Congratulations to Dr. Pheifer on earning her advanced certification through the American Academy of Facial Esthetics, as a qualified provider of dermal fillers!

So we sat down to ask Dr. P. to give us the details on exactly what dermal fillers are, what benefits they offer, what risks we should be aware of and what results we should be expecting…

A soft tissue dermal filler safely adds volume to the skin through tiny injections of Hyaluronic acid, which is already naturally produced by your body. The treatment smooths facial folds and wrinkles in areas around the mouth and eyes. It’s used to restore facial contours and improve signs of aging.

Fillers are great for plumper lips, frown lines or “marionette lines,” nasolabial folds and downturned smiles. And the results are long-lasting, at up to 6-12 months!

Dr. P. explains that the treatment is VERY safe and effective as long as your provider is credentialed and using safe products. She warns, “Dermal fillers are very trendy these days, and you could find yourself in a bad cosmetic or even a bad medical situation by receiving treatment from individuals who have not been properly trained and/or who use ‘discounted’ black market products.”

This is just one of many reasons why opting to receive your treatment from your dentist in a medical-grade facility is an excellent idea, with optimal results. 

And here is the great news, right now, new Brilliant Distinction Members who register through the following link will receive a rebate for $75 off and Juvederm collection product! https://savings.brilliantdistinctionsprogram.com/juvederm-it-75/

We’d love to talk to you about how this small change can equate to BIG boosts in confidence and beautiful, discreet results! Call our office at 740-739-4240 to schedule your consultation.

We’re On a Mission!

We’re On a Mission!

In late 2018, our team announced our goal of taking a mission trip to La Romana, Dominican Republic to provide free oral health care to low access to care patients in desperately impoverished villages.

This was our first mission trip as an office and we knew there would be extensive logistical planning involved in order to get our team and the necessary supplies to the DR and to coordinate with the local dental clinic.

Additionally, each of our travel team members committed to funding their own travel and lodging expenses for the entire week.

But we had our minds set on completing this mission trip, so we put fundraising plans into action, applied for passports when needed and worked extensively with our friends at #WorldMissionPartners to map out the logistics of the trip.

With the help and support of Dr. Kulesa, our Northstar Family Dental team members, patients, community partners, friends and family, within a few short months we were able to make this #MissionTrip dream a reality!

In La Romana…

Once in La Romana, all of our hard work and effort was quickly paid off ten-fold by the joy and fulfillment we found in serving a community that is desperately in need. Throughout the week of March 2-9, we had the pleasure of treating men, women and so many adorable children.

We spent the first part of the week operating out of Good Samaritan Hospital’s single chair clinic.

We spent the remainder of the week serving patients out of mobile dental clinic located in an R.V.

This mobile clinic provides treatment to the rural areas surrounding the town of La Romana. We took the R.V. into the rural areas called “bateyes” to treat patients in their community. The bateyes are where the sugar cane workers and their families live. The average salary for a sugar cane worker is $8 a day.

Most of these bateyes have no access to public transportation, limited electricity, minimal access to water and no proper sanitation.

We were given an emotionally warm welcome and it was so evident that our services were needed and greatly appreciated!

During the course of the week, we provided over 130 treatments, including cleanings, extractions and fluoride treatments.

Watch members of our travel team talk about their experience, including their trip highlights and candid stories about the patients they met: https://www.facebook.com/WestervilleDigitalMediaClub/videos/2235287046540117/

We feel that the positive impact that our mission trip had on those special patients in La Romana was as mutually beneficial to us as it was to them. We are already looking forward to planning our NEXT mission trip!

We have to give a big thanks to those who helped us make this trip possible. Thank you to our partners at World Mission Partners and #TheSchedulingInstitute. A HUGE thank you to our Northstar Family Dental team who worked extra hard in our #Westerville and #LewisCenter offices, allowing us to be out of the office for a week. And of course, thank you to our friends, family, patients and community partners; Westerville Endodontics, Dr. Salaita and 3C Technology Soulutions for your generous donations!

Exploring our Lewis Center Location

Exploring our Lewis Center Location

As you may already know, we opened our SECOND office location in Lewis Center in December of 2018. As of March 2019, we’re up and running in full swing and would love to share with you some of the cool features that were thoughtfully included when designing our newest office.

As with our Westerville location, Dr. Kulesa played a pivotal role in designing how our Lewis Center office would look, function and provide comfort to our patients and team.

Here are some of our favorite features!


Upon entry, you’ll be greeted by one of our friendly Patient Concierge team members. Help yourself to a drink and snack from our snack bar and have a seat in our comfortable waiting lounge. (Although, don’t get too comfortable, because you likely won’t be there long.)

During your short wait, the kiddos will be more than entertained by toys, games and books in their own special Kid’s Corner.






As a busy mom herself, Dr. Kulesa understands the frustration that can be felt when you’re in public and realize you forgot to restock the diaper bag or are in need of a personal item for yourself.

With that in mind, she designed a fully stocked restroom anticipating anything you may need while visiting our office…





As in our Westerville office, our pristine operatories are equipped with flat-screen TVs and you’ll be offered a full list of complimentary services from our comfort menu, including noise canceling headphones, a warm blanket, essential oil infused warm towels, paraffin hand dips and much more, to keep you occupied, comfortable and maybe even forget you’re in the dental chair.


Our Oral Surgery Suite is second to none. In the event that you should need treatment of this nature, Dr. Park will be able to provide you the highest quality care in a relaxing surgical room, complete with a dedicated, private recovery room.



For more information or to schedule an appointment at our Lewis Center location, please contact our team at 740-739-4240. We look forward to exceeding your expectations and providing exceptional care to you and your family.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month!

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month!

Perhaps it is because we’re an office full of moms…?

Whatever the reason, we are extremely passionate about kids’ dental health and creating trusting relationship between children and their dental care providers from the very FIRST experience.

We proudly join The American Dental Association in celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month every February.

Here is a shocking statistic for you; despite the fact that it’s almost entirely preventable, tooth decay is among the most common chronic disease in children.

But we’re on a mission to change that. And here comes all of the good news…

There are so many safe and effective preventive measures that can protect your child’s precious teeth. Simple, but effective, oral hygiene practices such as thorough brushing with fluoride toothpaste can help keep children from getting cavities.

*Bonus info! It has been a common myth that children do NOT need fluoride treatments. On the contrary, fluoride is very beneficial in keeping teeth strong and preventing cavities during the critical age when children are still learning their way around proper brushing.

Two of the most common questions we hear from parents are, “do I need to brush my child’s gums before they have teeth?” and “at what age should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?”

Both are excellent questions!

Yes, you should start cleaning your baby’s gums and mouth even before the first tooth erupts. Use a warm, soft cloth to gently clean your baby’s mouth after feeding.

Your little one’s first visit should be around one year of age. Often, at this age, a full cleaning or exam isn’t completed during that first visit and that is okay! Really, the purpose of this initial visit is to help both the parent and the child start to feel comfortable. A good hygienist will spend his/her time making the little patient feel safe and secure, maybe by playing games, counting teeth, answering questions or letting the little one explore the cleaning instruments/tools.

Here are a few more of our favorite tips for parents as they introduce proper brushing, visits to the dentist and overall good oral health care habits to sometimes reluctant kiddos:

  1. Let them take ownership. Empower your child by letting them be involved in choosing their fun character toothbrushes and/or their favorite flavor of age-appropriate toothpaste.
  2. Make it fun. Our friends at Oral-B have teamed up with Disney to create a super fun, effective and FREE Toothbrush Timer App. Download yours here: https://oralb.com/en-us/products/compare/disney-magic-timer-app
  3. Incentivize and Celebrate. Use a toothbrush tracking chart, like the one below and create a reward system. This is another opportunity to allow them to take ownership. Involve them in deciding what their reward for good brushing behavior will be.
  4. Watch snacks! Even the “healthy” all-natural, organic juices and gummy snacks can lead to cavities in your little ones. Our favorite options are always fruits, veggies, low-sugar yogurts, water, etc. And if they do have a sticky treat or juice, try to wash it down with water which will prevent the sugar from settling into the groves of the teeth until the next brushing.
  5. Our TOP Tip. One of the most important things you can do for your child is to make sure you find a dentist that both you and your child are comfortable with. Believe it or not, your child’s first experience with a dental office can shape their feelings about dentistry for a lifetime. With the number one reason cited for not seeing a dentist regularly being “a bad previous experience,” a good first impression is critical. Remember, they need to feel safe and allowed to proceed at their own pace.

For more awesome tips and to watch Dr. Kulesa serve up some parental dental Q&A, watch her here on Good Day Columbus with our friends Shawn Ireland and Camron Fontana.


And finally! We are celebrating our little patients even a little extra during their appointment this month. Every little patient gets to pick his or her own Silly Squishy when in the office – and that is of course on t0p of their trip to the prize box if they’re part of the Northstar Family Dental “No Cavity Club.”

Call our Westerville office at 614-682-6213 or our Lewis Center office at 740-739-4240 to get your little one on our schedule this month!

A Wonderful Year In Review

Seasons greetings to the best patients in town! We are taking the opportunity to reflect on what has ended up being one of our BIGGEST years yet. As we look back on 2018, we realize there are so many accomplishments and milestones that we are proud of and excited about.

We thought we would share a few highlights with you!

In April, we hosted our first VIP exclusive event at Juniper Roof Top Lounge and Dr. Kulesa was awarded the prestigious Dr. Jeffery M. Gibbs Memorial Excellence in Dentistry Award by the Dental Network Group, for exemplifying the highest standards of excellence in the practice of dentistry.


June was a particularly fun month for our team, who participated in the Westerville Chamber of Commerce Uptown Shuffle event. This month also brought the exciting news that Dr. Kulesa was recognized by Smart Business Magazine as one of the 50 Smart Business Owners in the greater Columbus area.


Dr. Kulesa made several appearances on GoodDay Columbus in 2018 to offer her dental expertise on everything from the best teeth whitening treatments to how to keep your kids’ teeth and mouth healthy.


In September, our team hosted our second Dentistry from the Heart event – opening our doors to the public to provide an entire day of completely FREE dental care!


In October, Dr. Pheifer welcomed baby number two – Miss Ada Jean!


In November, we committed to taking our first mission trip in the spring of 2019! Our team will travel to the rural, impoverished areas of the Dominican Republic to provide the residents with desperately needed oral care. Each member of our travel team has committed to covering their own travel and related expenses. To help manage the cost burden, we have created a t-shirt fundraiser. Check out the shirts at the link below and please consider supporting our team and this cause!



Finally, in December, we opened our SECOND location in Lewis Center and launched a new, improved website, all in the effort to better serve you!


We’ve enjoyed looking back on such an exciting year. And we couldn’t imagine it without the support and loyalty of the greatest patients in the world. We are looking forward to sharing many more great experiences with you in 2019!

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

What is Oral Cancer?

Cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue. In the simplest terms, oral cancer is any cancer of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses and pharynx.

  • According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, nearly 49,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year.
  • Worldwide, the problem is much greater, with new cases exceeding 650,000 annually.
  • One person will die every hour of every day 24/7/365 from oral cancer in the US.

Who is at Risk of Oral Cancer?

While historically the majority of people were over the age of 40 at the time of discovery, it is now occurring more frequently in those under this age. Exact causes for those affected at a younger age are now becoming clearer in research, revealing a viral cause; the human papilloma virus number 16 (HPV16).

  • The fastest growing population of the oral cancer population are those who have been diagnosed with HPV16 and young Non-Smokers.

Which means, do NOT wait until you are in your 40s to be screened! Remember, early detection can save your life! (see more about screening and early detection below)

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

  • A sore, lump or ulcer on the lip or in the mouth that does not heal
  • A lump on the lip or in the mouth A lump in the neck
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue or lining of the mouth
  • Unusual bleeding, pain or numbness in the mouth
  • Oral pain that does not go away or a feeling that something is caught in the throat
  • Difficulty or pain with chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty with jaw opening
  • Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable
  • Tooth loosening
  • Bad breath
  • Sensory loss of the face
  • Abnormal taste in the mouth
  • Swallowing difficulty


How Can You Check for Oral Cancer?

You can and SHOULD have an Oral Cancer screening performed by your dentists or hygienist.

At Northstar Family Dental, we use an innovative tool that utilizes light technology to enhance visualization of mucosal abnormalities such as oral cancer or premalignant dysplasia that may not be apparent to the naked eye. And unlike other fluorescence technologies and dye systems, our tool is Multi-Spectral with three distinct color wavelengths, making it easier to distinguish lesion morphology and vasculature aiding the dental professional in determining next steps.

In other words, we can complete a painless, non-invasive screening in a matter of minutes that can provide you with peace of mind. Or more importantly, can allow for early detection of suspicious tissue, in which case the proper next steps can be taken to ensure the most positive outcome.

Please consider completing an Oral Cancer screening during your next dental visit. And encourage your loved ones to do so as well. Currently, 40% of those diagnosed with oral cancer will die within five years because the majority of these cases will be discovered as a late stage malignancy. Help us make a positive shift in the percentages.



Two is good. Four is Better.

Two is good. Four is Better.

At Northstar Family Dental, our philosophy is preventative care. It is much easier to prevent gum disease and other common oral health issues than it is to treat them.

Plaque and bacteria, which are a leading cause of gum disease and tooth loss, can rebuild in as little as 90 days! Which is long before the traditional six-month cleaning appointment. Two is good. Four is better.

As gum disease advances, plaque moves further down the tooth where it can destroy the supporting bone in your jaw, causing teeth to loosen and fall out. Luckily, the chance of this happening can be greatly reduced through frequent dental cleanings combined with good oral hygiene habits. Two is good. Four is better.

The health benefits span far beyond your mouth. Studies have shown a connection between oral and overall health. Regular dental cleanings may help lower your risk for some diseases, like heart disease and stroke. Many medical conditions, some of them life-threatening, can be detected in their early stages by your dentist or hygienist during a routine oral exam. Two is good. Four is better.

In addition to the obvious health benefits of frequent cleanings, there are cosmetic advantages. Drinking coffee, tea and wine or using tobacco products can stain your teeth at a rapid rate. Dental cleanings can remove built-up stains which dull the luster of your teeth. A professional clean and polish results in a beautiful, bright smile like only a visit to the dentist can achieve. Two is good. Four is better.

And finally, there are social benefits. While good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent bad breath, if you notice persistently un fresh breath, more frequent cleanings may be the best way to keep your mouth healthy and odor free, resulting in a boost in confidence in social environments. Two is good. Four is better.


Because we believe strongly in this preventative oral care philosophy, we are committed to offering this very important option to you and your family at an affordable cost. call our dental office in Westerville at 614-682-6213 or our Lewis Center office at 740-739-4240, to speak with a scheduling coordinator about possible insurance coverage and out of pocket costs.

The Facts on Fluoride

The Facts on Fluoride

If you’re a Northstar Family Dental patient, you have probably been offered a fluoride treatment during one of your routine visits. We’re often asked about the benefits, restrictions after treatment and the myths about negative effects of fluoride. So we thought we would answer the questions that we hear the most all right here!

Fact 1Fluoride is a mineral from the crust of the earth that occurs naturally in all water sources. Research has shown that fluoride not only reduces cavities in children and adults, but it also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay, even before the decay is visible. When it reaches your teeth, fluoride is absorbed into the enamel. It helps to repair the enamel by replenishing the lost calcium and phosphorous to keep your teeth hard. In other words, fluoride is GOOD!

Fact 2Although fluoride is found in natural sources such as drinking water, it is often not in a high enough quantity to prevent dental decay. Which is why the ADA and our team suggest supplementing.

Fact 3: Topical versus Systemic Fluorides. Topical fluorides are applied directly to the tooth enamel. Some examples include fluoride toothpastes and mouthrinses, as well as fluoride treatment that we perform in our office. However, the fluoride treatment that we use in the office is a much stronger concentration than that in toothpastes or fluoride mouthrinses that may be available in a store or at a pharmacy. Systemic fluorides are those that are swallowed. Examples include fluoridated water and dietary fluoride supplements. The maximum reduction in cavities is achieved when fluoride is available both topically and systemically.

Fact 4: Your fluoride treatments will take only a matter of minutes, can be completed during your routine cleaning appointment and is painless. After the treatment, we ask that you not eat or drink anything hot or cold for 30 minutes or brush/floss for six hours. Other than that, there is no downtime or side effects.

Fact 5: Depending on your oral health status, we may recommend treatments every three, six or 12 months. If you are at moderate or high risk of developing cavities, we may discuss additional preventative care solutions.

The next time you’re in our office, we urge you to consider a fluoride treatment to further protect you and your loved one’s overall oral health. The best part…most months, we donate $2 for every fluoride treatment administered to a non-profit charitable organization.


Ask your hygienist for details!

Ms. Liza Green, Dental Hygienist of Northstar Family Dental Westernville OH

Liza Green, RDH, Contributing Editor



Halloween Doesn’t Have to be a Nightmare for Your Kids’ Teeth

Halloween Doesn’t Have to be a Nightmare for Your Kids’ Teeth

It’s that time of year again and we’re here to reassure you that Halloween treats – in moderation – are nothing to worry about.

In fact this fun holiday can even present an opportunity to teach your children about good oral health habits.

Our top tips for a successful Halloween season:

  • Moderation. Once your child arrives home from trick-or-treating or Halloween parties with their collected goodies, help them go through their treats and have them pick an allotted amount of their favorites. The rest should be out of sight, out of mind. We’ve had great success donating left over candy to local food banks, the fire station or police department as a gesture to our community service men and women.
  • Choosing the right TYPE of treat. If possible, try to steer kids away from the super sticky treats that have a tendency to really stick down in the grooves of teeth. Think: taffy, gummies and caramels. The length of time that sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay…which leads us to our next tip…
  • Brush as soon as possible. We know you won’t always have access to brush immediately after enjoying candy. To help in the meantime, encourage your kiddos to drink water during or right after eating their can dy, which will help wash away some of the excess sugar. And then of course, brush with extra care as soon as the opportunity is available.
  • Parents helping other parents. You can be an active part in helping keep little mouths healthy this Halloween. Be selective when choosing the treats that YOU will pass out during trick-or-treat or parties. Your best bet is to choose chocolate over sticky, gummy, hard or sour options. Dark chocolate in particular has less sugar than milk chocolate. And this is good news since chocolate is usually a crowd favorite!

From all of us at Northstar Family Dental, we wish you a happy, safe, and fun Halloween season! Don’t forget to schedule your little ghosts and goblins’ checkup before the end of the year – not only is it smart to get checked out during the holiday season with its excess in sugary consumption – but your 2017 benefits will be expiring soon! Now that’s scary!

Why Your Child’s First Dental Visit is So Important

Why Your Child’s First Dental Visit is So Important

“Amazing experience with my anxious 7 year old son. Friendly and accommodating staff and a superbly clean office. Awesome list of “comfort” items helped ease my sons fears (he thinks watching TV while getting dental work done is the best thing ever!) This is the third dentist we have been to with him, and as the saying goes, third time’s the charm.” – Kelly H. (GOOGLE)

Believe it or not, your child’s first experience with a dental office can shape their feelings about dental visits for a lifetime. With the number one reason cited for not seeing a dentist regularly being “a bad previous experience,” a good first impression is critical.

Even the most advanced techniques and skilled dental professionals will have a hard time erasing a bad memory, which is why it is so important to start with a positive experience.

At Northstar Family Dental, our team recognizes the implications of a child’s first few visits. Which is why we take a thoughtful and purposeful approach to ensure your little one associates the dentist office with a safe, happy and friendly environment. 

Each child is greeted by one of our friendly team members and shown around the office – giving them time to relax and ask questions. Their tour includes a visit to the prize box which they will be able to return to pick a prize after they’ve completed their checkup.

Once in the room, they get their choice of kid-favorite television channel to watch during their checkup and cleaning. Our hygienists have perfected the art of the kid-friendly cleaning through the use of vivid communication that children can understand and relate to. We use “magical paint” (toothpaste), of their flavor choice, to get rid of the “sugar bugs.” The kids are also encouraged to help count their teeth and check to make sure they are healthy and clean.

Keeping the kids involved and letting them help make decisions, prevents them from feeling out of control of the situation leading to nervousness and anxiety, while also keeping them distracted from the fact that they’re getting a checkup!

And good oral health care habits are not to go unrewarded. In addition to picking from the prize box – when a child is cavity free, they join our No Cavity Club – which enters them into a drawing for exciting prizes like Columbus Clippers tickets, Columbus Zoo memberships, Toys R Us gift cards and more!


However, even more important than all the fun offered during a Northstar Family Dental visit; if a child is still feeling unsure and resists the checkup – we will never force any treatment. Pressuring a child could leave them feeling even more anxious and stimulate negative feelings toward future appointments. If the only thing we do during an initial visit is a quick visual exam and pep talk about at-home care – that is okay! Even a nervous child will warm up to the idea of an exam as long as they are treated in a manner that builds trust.



Tips on Caring for Your Child’s Teeth at Home


  1. Be mindful of snack choices. Try to avoid foods that are going to stick to your child’s teeth. (Think gummy snacks, candy, jelly and jams)
  2.  Make sure the kiddos are drinking plenty of water. When possible, try to avoid juices, soda and sports drinks which are high in sugar and acidity.
  3. Get your greens! It’s probably no surprise to see foods like broccoli and leafy greens included on a list of what your child should be consuming. They’re full of vitamins and minerals while being low in calories. They are also high in calcium, which helps in building your child’s enamel.
  4. Try crunchy, high fiber foods like apples, celery and carrots. While many fruits get a bad wrap because of their sugar content, apples are relatively low in sugar, but high in fiber and help scrub away plaque.


  1. Parents should be helping their kids brush until they are able to do it themselves well. Most parents are surprised to learn that it is not until age nine or 10 that a child knows how to properly and effectively brush by themselves! It is essential to check their brushing to ensure everything is getting cleaned to prevent decay.
  2. Get them excited about oral health! In addition to informative children’s books, there are several digital resources available to parents. One of our favorite websites is 2MIN2X, which features fun videos, brushing games, printable checklists, etc. Check it out at the link below!


We would love to see your little one in our office for their first visit. We promise to provide a memorable experience that will be sure to get them excited about oral health and future visits to the dentists!

For more information about Dental Fillings or to schedule a consultation with one of Northstar Family Dental’s Dentists,
call our dental office in Westerville at 614-682-6213 or our Lewis Center office at 740-739-4240.

Cassie Wise, RDH, Contributing Editor

Is Botox, Juvederm or Radiesse right for you?

Is Botox, Juvederm or Radiesse right for you?

Are you unhappy with the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles?

Consider BOTOX® Cosmetic, the only FDA approved treatment to temporarily improve both moderate to severe frown lines between the brows and fine lines around the eyes (commonly referred to as “crows feet”) in adults. This simple, yet effective, treatment typically takes only about 10 minutes to complete in the comfort and privacy of our office – and has been proven to last up to four months.

Do you suffer from chronic migraines or teeth grinding?

BOTOX® is the first and only FDA-approved preventive treatment for chronic migraines. Unlike acute treatments, which are used to treat a headache or migraine once it’s already begun, BOTOX® prevents headaches and migraines before they even start.

What is JUVÉDERM®?

JUVÉDERM®  is a non-surgical treatment to lift and contour the cheek area, smooth wrinkles and lines, and even enhance your lips. Over time, the cheeks flatten and lips lose fullness. This is caused by a natural loss of volume. JUVÉDERM® combats these signs of aging by adding subtle and smooth volume beneath the skin’s surface to lift and contour cheeks and lips.  Results are not only instantaneous – the outcome looks natural and is long lasting. In fact, JUVÉDERM® is the only filler proven to last up to two years in the cheek area.

Our newest product, JUVÉDERM® Volbella XC is the first and only FDA approved filler proven to increase lip fullness and soften the appearance of vertical lip lines for up to one year.

JUVÉDERM® also contains lidocaine to help reduce discomfort during the treatment. With the amazing benefits, it is no surprise that JUVÉDERM® is the #1 selling collection of filler in the U.S.

What is RADIESSE®?

RADIESSE® is a dermal filler that is used for smoothing moderate to severe facial wrinkles and folds, such as nasolabial folds (the creases that extend from the corner of your nose to the corner of your mouth) and for correcting volume loss in the back of the hands.  The filler works immediately to add instant volume under the skin. Over time, the benefits of RADIESSE® continue by stimulating your body’s own natural collagen. Results have been shown to last a year or longer in many patients; making the treatment results both immediate and long lasting.

What will I look like with BOTOX®,  JUVÉDERM® or RADIESSE® treatment?

Still not convinced? Download the Treatment Visualizer to see how amazing the results could look on YOU! https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/juvederm-treatment-visualizer/id501612171?mt=8

We always offer complimentary consultations to ensure that you confidently choose the best treatment option for your individual needs. Let the experts at Northstar Family Dental help you discover the results that everyone will notice, but no one will know.

For more information about Dental Fillings or to schedule a consultation with one of Northstar Family Dental’s Dentists,
call our dental office in Westerville at 614-682-6213 or our Lewis Center office at 740-739-4240.

Jessica Bowersock, Certified Dental Assistant, Certified Advanced Esthetician

Contributing Editor

Why the need for Dental Implants?

Despite continuous advancements in dental technology and improvements in oral health, millions of Americans still struggle with tooth loss. This is typically the result of tooth decayperiodontal disease, or injury. For many years, bridges and dentures were the only treatment options for people suffering from tooth loss. Not anymore.

Today, oral surgeons can offer a different solution in the form of Dental ImplantsImplants look, feel, and function like your natural teeth, allowing you to eat, smile and communicate as confidently as you would with your natural teeth.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are artificial tooth “roots” that are placed into the jaw to help hold the replacement teeth in place. The implants themselves are small titanium posts that are surgically placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. The posts act as anchors and provide a strong foundation for the replacement teeth, which are made to match your natural teeth.

What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?

Improved appearance. Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. And because they are designed to fuse with bone, they become permanent.

Improved speech. Often, a patient with dentures will experience gradual movement and poor fit of the replacement teeth over time causing disrupted or difficulty with speech. Because Dental Implants are permanently placed, they allow you to speak without the worry that the teeth might slip.

Improved comfort and convenience. Because they become part of you, implants eliminate the discomfort of removable dentures which don’t always fit identically to your jawline. They eliminate the embarrassing inconvenience of removing dentures, as well as the need for messy adhesives to keep them in place.

Easier eating. Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain.

Improved self-esteem. If you’ve struggled with tooth loss, you can imagine how having a full set of natural looking and feeling teeth can improve your quality of life. Dental Implants can restore your smile and renew your self-confidence in personal, work and social environments.

Improved oral health. Dental implants don’t require removal of tooth structure to adjacent teeth, as a tooth-supported bridge does. Because nearby teeth are not altered to support the implant, more of your own teeth are left intact, improving long-term oral health. Individual implants also allow easier access between teeth, making it easy to maintain optimal oral hygiene.

Durability. Implants are very durable and with regular dental hygiene maintenance, many implants last a lifetime with no needs to repair or replace.

Who is a Good Candidate for Implants?

In most cases, anyone healthy enough to undergo a routine dental extraction or oral surgery can be considered for a dental implant.

Northstar Family Dental’s Certified Oral Surgeon, Dr. Julie Park, will meet with you individually to understand your personal needs and confirm that implants are an ideal solution for you.

Dr. Park will work closely with you and your Northstar Family Dental general dentist to develop an individualized treatment plan. This team approach; partnering you with professionals who are specially trained and experienced in oral surgery and restorative dentistry will ensure a comfortable and streamlined experience, guaranteeing the best possible outcome.

Are Dental Implants Painful?

The majority of dental implant patients report that there is very little discomfort involved in the procedure. If necessary, oral and  IV sedation are available for added comfort and reduced anxiety. However, most patients describe the amount of pain experienced to be less than that of a tooth extraction.

What Type of Success Can Be Expected from a Dental Implant?

As with any surgical procedure results may vary from patient to patient. However, in general, dental implants have a success rate of up to 98%. With proper care, implants can last a lifetime.

If you are considering implants…

For more information about Dental Fillings or to schedule a consultation with one of Northstar Family Dental’s Dentists,
call our dental office in Westerville at 614-682-6213 or our Lewis Center office at 740-739-4240.

Dr. Julie Park, DMD

Contributing editor

Why is My Tooth Sensitive?

Why is My Tooth Sensitive?

Tooth sensitivity, tooth pain, biting pain, gum pain — they are all uncomfortable, annoying, and scary occurrences…  A sensation in your tooth can be cause by a multitude of things, ranging from gum recession and root exposure, to sinus pressure, to tooth decay and infection.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity:

1. “Idiopathic Hypersensitivity”

A tooth may be sensitive for a short time with no cause, no treatment, and it will go away!  Good news!

2. Sinus Pressure

May cause teeth to feel uncomfortable and achy/painful.  The sensation may become more apparent when walking up stairs, running, or with exercise.  If this is the suspected cause, we may refer you to you Primary Care Physician for a confirmed diagnosis and treatment.

3. Gum Recession

Caused (usually) by brushing too hard or using a medium/hard bristled toothbrush, gum recession can also be intensified by tooth grinding and/or clenching.  Many treatments are available, depending on the severity of this condition.

4. Tooth Grinding (Bruxism), Tooth Clenching Habit

In addition to causing damage to the structure of your teeth, tooth grinding and clenching make teeth hypersensitive due to the forces and pressures exerted.  This habit can also cause loss of
enamel near the gumline of teeth.  Treatment usually includes an occlusal (night) guard, and possibly treatment to cover areas of enamel loss.

sens teeth cartoon5. Missing/Loose Fillings

The inner surface of your tooth is exposed and we must cover it!

6. Cavities

7. Cracked Teeth

Cracked teeth can lead to temperature sensitivity, or sensitivity when chewing.  However, recent research shows that 70% of cracked teeth cause no symptoms!  Cracked teeth need treated ASAP before the crack progresses.

8. Abscess/Infected Tooth

Usually causes spontaneous pain, sometimes swelling, and/or pain that comes and goes over time.  Come see us immediately!

9. Gum Disease

This can cause root exposure, but also active infection of your gums can make both your gums and teeth painful.

Whatever the cause of your sensitive teeth, we can help.  We are expertly trained in the diagnosis and management of tooth sensitivity (in addition to a lot of other things!), and we would love to alleviate your annoying tooth discomfort! 🙂

Dr. B

Thinking About Having a Baby, or Recently Pregnant?

Thinking About Having a Baby, or Recently Pregnant?

When you’re planning a family, visiting the dentist may not be at the top of your priority list.  However, if you’re thinking about having a baby or are recently pregnant, a dental cleaning and check-up is best done sooner rather than later.

Good oral health is a component of good overall health, both for you and for your baby…

And the good news is, dental care is safe and essential during pregnancy.

Below are answers to common questions about dental treatment and pregnancy, as well as oral care tips for pregnant women.

Don’t forget to come see us during this crazy, chaotic time!

Regular Visits to Monitor Pregnancy Gingivitis

Increase in hormones during pregnancy increases blood flow to the gums, which can cause swelling and tenderness.  It can also cause “pregnancy gingivitis,” Read the rest of this entry »

Our Philosophy

Our Philosophy

Our philosophy at Northstar Family Dental is simple:  We strive to provide high quality, comfortable, comprehensive care with a strong focus on prevention and education.  Overall, we treat each patient as an individual, keeping their own goals, concerns and personal philosophies in mind.  I want to break down each part of our philosophy, in order to describe in greater depth what we are all about.

Read the rest of this entry »

Is Sleep Apnea Affecting Your Quality of Life?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) affects millions of adults in the U.S. — an estimated 1 in 5 Americans— yet studies show that up to 80% of these cases are undetected.

OSA is caused by obstruction of the airway that occurs when the jaw falls back during sleep, collapsing the airway.  As a reaction, the brain is triggered, causing one to come out of deep sleep to regain control of the jaw muscles to re-open the airway to allow for breathing to resume.  This can occur 5-70 times per hour — dramatically effecting quality of sleep.

Cleft Lip & Palate Facts

Cleft Lip & Palate Facts

What’s a Cleft Lip or Cleft Palate?
Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects — they happen when a baby is developing.
Cleft lip is a split in the upper lip — either one or two sides of the lip — creating a wider opening into the nose. Cleft Palate is a split in the roof of the mouth, leaving a hole between the nose and mouth.

How common are they?
Cleft lip and/or palate are very common and occur in about 1 or 2 of every 1,000 babies born in the United States each year.

When do they occur?
These defects occur between 6 and 12 weeks in utero. Because the lips and palate develop separately, it’s possible to have cleft lip alone, cleft palate alone, or both together.

What is the cause?
The cause is not always known. Sometimes it is hereditary or part of a syndrome (meaning there are birth defects in other body parts too), It may be related to what happened during a mother’s pregnancy (medications, lack of certain vitamins, exposure to cigarette smoke).

What other problems do these babies have?
Feeding problems… Because there is a hole between the nose and mouth milk can come out of the nose, can happen every time they drink.Ear/hearing problems… Can have hearing loss (may be caused by fluid building up inside the ear).Dental problems… Small teeth, missing teeth, extra teeth, crooked teeth, etc. Speech problems…Kids with cleft palate find their soft palate sometimes does not move well and lets too much air leak out the nose while speaking; makes them sound nasally.

What doctors treat babies with cleft lip and/or palate?
It takes a team of different types of specialists! (plastic surgeon, a speech-language pathologist, an orthodontist, an otolaryngologist (ENT), an oral surgeon, a dentist, a geneticist, a social worker, a psychologist, an audiologist)

What is the treatment for cleft lip and/or palate?
It takes several surgeries. Cleft lip is usually repaired between 3 to 6 months old; cleft palate is usually repaired at 9-12 months old. They then have a bone graft when they’re about 8 years old (usually from the kid’s hip, and uses it to fill in the gap in the upper gum area).

Help us Sponsor A Smile through the Free to Smile Foundation!! Free to Smile Foundation is a nonprofit, humanitarian organization with an all-volunteer staff who works together to help serve the impoverished cleft and palate population around the world.

We are raising money to “Sponsor A Smile.” It takes $275 to provide for one 60 minute surgery. Please stop in to make a donation, or call to donate over the phone. This is a great cause, and we are so thankful for your support!

3 Warning Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

3 Warning Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth, the last teeth in the mouth to break through the gums and located furthest back in the mouth, usually begin to form in pre-teen years. By late teen years, the these teeth will begin to erupt into the oral cavity… if there is room.

More often than not, our mouths lack the adequate space for these teeth, leading to either full impaction (where the tooth never fully erupts into the mouth), or partial impaction (where the tooth only has room to partially break through the gums). This usually means that the teeth are painfully lodged in the jawbone.

When wisdom teeth are either partially or completely impacted, complications can arise, such as damage to adjacent teeth, gum disease, tooth disease, and cyst development. Sometimes, though, no symptoms are present.

3 Warning Signs of an Impacted Wisdom Tooth:
– Pain and tenderness in the back of the mouth
– Difficulty chewing
– Redness and/or swelling of the gums in the back of the mouth

The treatment for impacted wisdom teeth is usually removal. Modern surgical and anesthesia techniques allow for comfortable and efficient removal of wisdom teeth. Recovery time is minimal – usually less than a few days – and most patients experience no more than some swelling after the surgery. We screen for impacted wisdom teeth beginning in the teenage years, as removal can be more difficult with increasing age.

Banish Bad Breath!

Banish Bad Breath!

What Causes Bad Breath

 And bacteria’s food is your food. Therefore, to avoid bad breath, the most important habit to maintain is to keep your mouth clean — brush, floss, rinse, and even use a tongue scraper. If you clean away their food, the bacteria can’t proliferate and bad breath is tamed. Cavities and periodontal disease will cause bad breath!

Some foods and drinks.Garlic and onions contain smelly sulfur compounds that linger in your mouth, and then are exhaled after they enter the bloodstream. Coffee and alcohol create an environment that favors bacterial growth. They also dry out your mouth, which perpetuates bad breath.

Dry mouth is a major factor. Saliva is a natural antibacterial, and it washes away food. Remember to stay hydrated. This can help keep nighttime dry mouth at bay and will help to keep away morning breath, as well as daytime bad breath.

A low carb diet can also cause bad breath. Because your body is burning fat instead of sugar/carbs, your body is under a state of ketosis. You develop “ketone breath” because some ketones made by your body are released in your mouth, and they are stinky!

Certain foods can help to banish bad breath.

Green tea – Green tea has antibacterial components that can kill bad breath germs.

Herbs – Herbs (parsley, coriander, cilantro, tarragon, eucalyptus, rosemary, cardamom) contain chlorophyll, which is a natural breath deodorizer. It helps neutralize body odors. Parsley is tasty when added to water. These herbs can also be juiced, chewed on their own, or added to food.

Water – Water helps to decrease dry mouth to neutralize the pH of your saliva, both of which help to fight bad breath. Rinse with water after eating and drinking.

Foods high in Vitamin C – These foods (think oranges, melon, berries) Can stop bacteria from growing and help to neutralize odors from smelly foods.

Yogurt – Live active cultures can help to reduce bad breath. Probiotics in some yogurt varieties can overpower the bad-smelling bacteria.

Cinnamon flavored gum – While mint flavor masks bad breath, cinnamon may actually fight the bacteria causing bad breath. Always remember to buy a sugar-free variety!

If you suffer from bad breath, be sure to discuss it with your dentist. We can offer dietary advice, recommend products, and determine the cause of the problem so that it can be effectively treated. Keep in mind that bad breath can sometimes be an underlying symptom of other health problems, including liver problems, acid reflux, diabetes, and sinus infections.

Invisalign Experience

Invisalign Experience

Ever wondered what Invisalign is like from a patient’s perspective? Watch the video below to hear our patient’s first-hand account. Ashley details what she liked about the treatment, the difficulties she faced, and her overall experience with our team. Enjoy!


Top 10 Dental Tips

Top 10 Dental Tips

1. Visit the dentist regularly.
Have your teeth cleaned at least 2 times per year. In their early stages, almost all oral diseases lack symptoms and are less expensive and easier to treat.

2. Brush correctly!
Use a soft bristled (or automatic) toothbrush for at least 2 minutes, at least twice per day. Don’t scrub! And don’t forget to brush your gums.

3. Flossing is just as important is brushing.
Each tooth has 5 surfaces and if you are not flossing, you are leaving 2 of these surfaces dirty! Bacteria will flourish, causing gum disease, bone loss, and cavities.

4. Finish every meal and snack (and drink!) with a glass of water.
It will help to bring your mouth back to a neutral pH, which will protect your teeth from acid erosion.

5. Don’t brush after drinking coffee, pop, or juice!
You will literally be scrubbing the acid onto your teeth. Drink some water, and wait as long as possible. Use some mouth rinse in the meantime!

6. If you have a fear of the dentist, let us know!
If it’s the sound of the drill that bothers you, we have noise-cancelling headphones. If you don’t like being numb, we have methods to help with that, too! And if you just want to sleep through your dental visit, sedation dentistry may be best for you.

7. Wear a mouth guard when playing sports to avoid dental trauma.
And if you tend to clench your teeth when lifting weights, a mouth guard will protect your teeth from extensive wear.

8. Clean your tongue using a tongue scraper.
This will help to prevent bad breath and to remove the loads of bacteria that accumulate there. Yuck!

9. Know how to handle dental trauma.
If, unfortunately, you or someone you are with knocks their tooth out, put it in milk (gatorade, or water if you don’t have milk on hand), and call your dentist ASAP! Keeping it stored in this manner will give it the best chance of survival.

10. Avoid smoking and chewing tobacco.
You know the risks! And tobacco + alcohol consumption is what we call an “oral cancer cocktail.” Quit for your health!

No dental insurance? No problem!

Dental treatment doesn’t have to cost a fortune, even if you don’t have dental insurance coverage. We don’t want you to avoid or delay treatment due to cost, which is why we offer a great in-house dental savings plan.

For a membership fee of $279 (single membership. Dual and family memberships also available for an additional fee), you receive 2 free “healthy mouth” cleanings per year, as well as 2 exams, and bitewing x-rays. Additional procedures are also discounted, from 20-50% off!

Check out this link for more on pricing and member discounts: Northstar Family Dental Dental Savings Plan

Bottom line is, we want you to get the dental care you deserve. If you have a budget, let us know! We will work with you and explore all options, whether it is our DSP, Lending Club, or in-office financing.

Sedation Dentistry

Sedation Dentistry

For many people, visiting the dentist can be difficult due to anxiety, stress, or discomfort sitting for long periods of time. At Northstar Family Dental, your comfort is our priority, which is why we offer sedation dentistry as a way for people to completely relax during their visit.

We offer three forms of sedation; Nitrous Oxide Sedation, Oral Conscious Sedation and IV Sedation, providing the perfect options for those with mild to severe anxiety.

Dr. Kulesa recognized there was a need to help ease the stress and anxiety in nervous patients. In order to better serve her patients, she completed an extensive sedation training program to become certified by the Ohio State Dental Board to perform IV Sedation in her office.

IV sedation provides a higher level of sedation than nitrous oxide and offers more predictable results than oral medication, all while maintaining the patient’s consciousness—allowing them to completely relax and still interact as necessary.

If you experience dental anxiety and have been avoiding essential oral health care, the deep state of relaxation that can be achieved through IV sedation may provide you the solution you’ve been waiting for. Through the use of sedation dentistry, Dr. Kulesa and her team have helped many patients get the dental treatment that they so badly need, but have been too afraid to complete.

IV Sedation services at Northstar Family Dental are completely confidential; the office even provides a private back entrance and exit for patients who wish to skip the lobby area. When necessary, financing is made simple and affordable through Lending Club – a deferred interest medical loan provider.

If sedation dentistry sounds like it may be the way to go for you, feel free to schedule a complimentary consultation and we can discuss it further.

For more information about Dental Implants or to schedule a consultation with one of Northstar Family Dental’s Dentistscall our dental office in Westerville at Westerville Office Phone Number 614-891-4242.
Bruxism – Tooth Grinding

Bruxism – Tooth Grinding

Does your spouse complain about the strange noises you make at night?  Do you wake up still tired, with a sore jaw?  Do you suffer from tension headaches?  Do your teeth always seem to be chipping and breaking?  You may be suffering from bruxism, or tooth grinding.

Studies have shown that up to 1/3 of the population suffers from chronic bruxism, and that 85-90% of people grind their teeth at some point during their life.


  • Tight, painful jaw muscles (especially in the a.m.)
  • Dull a.m. headaches
  • Pain/discomfort around the ears when chewing/yawning
  • Sensitive, cracked, and/or worn teeth


  • Body’s reaction to poor tooth alignment
  • Consuming stimulants (e.g. caffeine)


  • Migraine headaches
  • Joint damage – TMJ
  • Damage to teeth and existing dental work
  • Chronic tooth sensitivity, tooth mobility (loose teeth)
  • …and eventual tooth loss!


anterior bite planeGenerally, as a first and sometimes only step, the pain and discomfort from bruxism (tooth grinding) is alleviated using a custom dental occlusal guard (night guard).  This appliance also protects the teeth from further wear damage. Pictured to the right is anAnterior Bite Plane (AKA occlusal guard/night guard), the appliance we most often prescribe for patients at NFD.

Other methods to treat the symptoms and prevent further damage may include:

  • Relaxation methods
  • TMJ Botox
  • Orthodontics
  • Train yourself to keep your lips sealed, but your teeth apart.  Try to relax your jaw throughout the day.  This will help to raise awareness of your habit, and keep you from doing damage during the day.

Kids and bruxism

Studies have shown that 15-38% of kids grind their teeth.  This phenomenon could be related to growth, teething, or coping with earaches or other illnesses.  However, kids who do this tend to outgrow the habit by adolescence.

And, yes, Bruxism runs in families!!

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, let us know! We can help. Protect your teeth from future damage and wear a night guard!

Natural Dental Products

Natural Dental Products

I am so excited to introduce 2 new products into our office: Dental Herb Co.’s Tooth & Gums Tonic and Tooth & Gums Paste.

I learned of these products in a seminar and Dental Herb Co. was kind enough to send me a patient kit, which I passed along to a someone that I hoped it would benefit. Honestly, a month later (also thanks to the help of Lisa, his hygienist) his gums looked amazing! He’s a fan, and made sure I knew that he’d be out of the product by March and wanted more. Honestly, that convinced me of its effects.


Dental Herb Co. products are made from pure essential oils & organic herb extracts. They are free of alcohol, fluoride, preservatives, SLS, artificial colors, & synthetic dyes

This specific blend of natural ingredients work together in amazing ways… The Tonic is antiseptic – it kills bacteria, while also conditioning and rebuilding oral tissues and fighting bad breath. Additionally, the Tooth & Gums Paste contains Green tea extract, which has been found to be a potent anticariogenic (anti-cavity forming) agent, by interfering with the ability of bacteria to adhere to your teeth.

Specific Indications

  • Long-term periodontal maintenance – Tooth and Gums tonic is antiseptic.  Its ability to fight bacteria rivals that of other Rx-strength rinses.  However, unlike other products it is non-staining!
  • Halitosis (bad breath) – The ingredients in T&G Tonic are scientifically proven to fight bad breath.  The product ranked as the #1 antihalitosis product in a large study conducted by the well known, independent research organization, Clinical Research Associates.
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth) – T&G Tonic is alcohol-free, so it will not dry out your mouth.  Additionally, the blend of herbs and essential oils are found to have a soothing, conditioning effect.
  • Those who prefer natural, fluoride-free, alcohol-free, and/or SLS-free products

…And, literally, anyone else!

If these products are of interest to you, let us know. Call, email, or come in… I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned about them with you!

All About Invisalign

All About Invisalign

Could Invisalign Work for Me?

Yes! Invisalign is a predictable orthodontic treatment method that could be of benefit to almost everyone. Potential cases include:

  • Orthodontic relapse.  For example, if you stopped wearing your retainer, causing your teeth to shift out of alignment.
  • Crowded teeth
  • Spaced teeth
  • Bite discrepancies, including overbites and underbites
  • To align teeth in preparation for other dental work

What Exactly IS Invisalign and How Long Will it Take?

Invisalign is a method of orthodontics that utilizes a series of clear aligners to move teeth.  The aligners are specifically molded to fit each individual’s mouth.

On average, most cases take between 3 and 18 months.Treatment time depends on your specific goals, dental conditions, and the type of movement needed.

What Can I Expect During Treatment?

Invisalign trays require at least 22 hours of daily wear.  The trays must be removed while eating, and while drinking anything other than water.  Teeth must be brushed before re-insertion.  Every 2 weeks, you will change to a new tray, and minimal soreness can be expected for a short time.

What is the Process From Start to Finish?

Consult.  We will discuss treatment goals, expectations, and the overall process in detail.

Records.  We will take a series of photographs and impressions of your teeth.

Monitoring Visits.  These will occur about every 6 weeks and should take under 30 minutes. We will check your progress, the fit of your trays, and give you 3 new sets of trays.

Retention.  When your treatment is complete, we will discuss what type of retainers would work best for you.  We will take records for their fabrication, and you will return in a week or so to receive your retainers.

What’s Different About Northstar Family Dental’s Invisalign Treatment?

Our goal is to make you happy. Mid course corrections and treatment refinements will be done at no charge to you(some other offices will try to charge extra for this). We are not satisfied until you are!

We are experienced. We are a Preferred Provider of Invisalign, and have a strong Invisalign patient base.

We can work with you on the financial part of treatment. We offer CareCredit, in-office payment plans, and work with most insurance companies.

Where Can I Find More Info?

Please visit the Invisalign website: Invisalign

Take the Invisalign Smile Assessment:  Smile Assessment

Check out our Invisalign Pinterest board for Before & After shots, and more Invisalign info: NFD Invisalign Pinterest Board

And, of course, we will be happy to see you for a complimentary consultation!

Acid Attack! Acid Erosion and Teeth

Acid Attack! Acid Erosion and Teeth

Could you be causing irreversible harm to your teeth every day?

Many of the foods and drinks we consume daily are acidic. In addition, health conditions such as GERD (acid reflux) and eating disorders subject one’s teeth to damaging acids.  Did you ever do that “science experiment” as a child when you put a dirty penny in Coca Cola and in a short time it was magically clean?  Now imagine a tooth dissolving instead of that penny.  Yeah, scary.

Signs and Symptoms of Acid Erosion:

  • Sensitivity.  The protection against insult provided by the outermost layer of your teeth (the enamel) has become compromised.
  • Discoloration.  When enamel is lost, the underlying dentin layer is more visible.  Dentin is darker in color (and more yellow!) than enamel.
  • “Rounded” teeth.  Caused by acid wear patterns.
  • Transparency.  This becomes apparent on the edges of front teeth.
  • Cracks and roughness. Your teeth are no longer as strong as they once were!
  • “Cupping out” of the chewing surfaces of back teeth.

Keep in mind…Anything with a pH below 5.0-5.7 triggers dental erosion, causing the hard outer enamel of your teeth to, basically, dissolve!!   While a lot of the foods and drinks that fall into this category are common knowledge, others may come as a surprise to most!

Acidic Foods and Drinks Include:

  • Drinks:  Fruit juices, Lemonade, Sports drinks, some brands of bottled water, Coffee, Carbonated beverages:, Alcohol
  • Most fruits & Some Veggies:  Including Rhubarb, Spinach, Mashed potatoes
  • Condiments: Jellies and Jams, Honey, Molasses, Maple Syrup, Soy Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, Chili Sauce, Ketchup
  • American Cheese, Cottage Cheese, Yogurt
  • Jell-O, Pickles
  • Roasted Nuts:  Pecans, Walnuts, Cashews

Some Simple Steps You Can Take to Help Protect Your Teeth

1.  Don’t let acidic foods or drinks linger in your mouth

2.  Drink acidic drinks through a straw and NEVER swish your drink between your teeth!

3.  After consuming something acidic, rinse with water to help neutralize the pH of your mouth.

4.  After eating/drinking something acidic, wait at least an hour before brushing. Enamel remains soft for awhile after acid exposure, and brushing too soon can perpetuate the problem!

5.  The frequency of acid exposure is more significant than the amount of acidic foods/drinks consumed.  If you have to drink a soda, don’t sip it over a prolonged period of time.

6.  Ask your dentist or dental hygienist about various products and services that can be used to treat acid erosion.  To help with sensitivity, prescription strength toothpaste or Fluoride treatments can help.  If a significant amount of tooth structure has been lost due to acid erosion, your teeth may need definitive restorative treatment.

Tips for Parents: Brushing

Tips for Parents: Brushing

Let’s be real…  It is HARD to get kids to brush their teeth!  Children generally do not consider brushing enjoyable, or even a priority.  They would rather be watching cartoons, playing outside, playing with toys…  Below are tips that will help you to incorporate regular toothbrushing into your young child’s life.

1.  Have a proper introduction

Toothbrushing from a child’s perspective: Mom or dad forces a funny object in your mouth for 2 minutes and pretends it is fun.   Scary!  Let your child become comfortable with the toothbrush itself first.  Leave it somewhere visible and soon your child will be curious.  Put it in the bathtub and let your child “discover” it.   Soon, he or she will no longer dodge you when you are trying to help.

2.  1-2-3-4-5… Break!

For a child, brushing for a full 2 minutes without a break can seem suffocating.  Help your child brush for 5 seconds, take a break for a quick breath and a swallow, and then continue.  You can “sing” to 5, count in their favorite cartoon character’s voice… be creative!

3.  Let your child be a “copy cat”

Leave your child’s toothbrush on the counter while you brush, or while you help an older sibling brush.  Soon, your child will feel left out and want to do the same.

4.  Change locations!

Who says you have to brush in the bathroom?  Let your child brush in the kitchen after breakfast, or while watching TV.   Maybe your child just needs a location change!

5.  Have your child teach a “friend”

By “friend,” I mean a stuffed animal, a doll, etc.  You can even have your child pick out a toothbrush for his or her friend at the store.  If you’re daring, let your child “teach” YOU how to brush!  Half a tube of toothpaste smeared all over your face is a small price to pay for your child’s oral health, right?!

6.  Find the right toothbrush

…And let your child choose!  If they can’t pick one, buy two!  If that’s what it takes to get them to brush…

The bottom line is, make brushing your teeth fun and exciting for your child. It doesn’t have to be a chore, and surely shouldn’t feel like one.

Dental X-Rays and Radiation Exposure

Dental X-Rays and Radiation Exposure

Once a year, your friendly dental hygienist cheerfully exclaims that it is time to update your x-rays.  Yayyy, you think……Ok, probably not.  We know that these x-rays take extra time out of your appointment, they are generally uncomfortable, and yes, they expose you to a small dose of radiation.  However, they are of a great benefit to you as patients, and to us as providers.

Why Are Dental X-Rays so Important?
These images allow us to see cavities that cannot be seen clinically.  They also allow us to see the supporting structures of the teeth, making them a critical tool in the diagnosis of periodontal (gum) disease, oral infections, bone disease, and even some tumors.

Now, I can’t give any excuses for those films that seem so incredibly large inside your mouth, the seconds that seem like hours as you sit there, waiting for that “beep!…”  But I do want to give you some information about the #1 reason patients deny x-rays — RADIATION EXPOSURE.

How NFD Minimizes Your Risk:

  • First, we use digital x-rays — digital technology uses 80-90% less radiation than traditional methods.
  • Our equipment is very targeted and focused — with the help of the lead apron, a very small part of your body receives the dose of radiation.
  • We determine each patient’s need for x-rays, both quantity and frequency, based on his or her dental history, medical history, and clinical presentation.  If you’re 40 years old, have never had a cavity, and brush, floss, and rinse twice a day (that’s all of you, right?), we may lengthen your check-up x-ray interval.  Someone with a more complex dental history may need more x-rays more often.  If you are, or could be, pregnant, we will refrain from taking x-rays.

And to put it all into perspective…

Every year most patients get 4 bitewing x-rays.  The radiation dose received is less than half of what you receive in a day from nature alone.  It’s also about the same dose of radiation you will receive by eating 300 bananas!

There is a great website that calculates the background radiation you are exposed to annually… The American Nuclear Society Radiation Dose Chart.  My dose is shown below!  (BTW if you live in Columbus, you’re at approx. 1000 ft above sea level, and there are no nuclear or coal power plants within 50 miles of us… now you don’t have to google it!)

And if you’re a visual person, this chart provides a great illustration of relative radiation doses.  A portion of the image is shown on the right.

Hopefully this helped you to weigh the definitive benefits of dental x-rays with the relative risks. If you truly have any hesitations about receiving dental x-rays, we are happy to discuss the topic with you, taking your specific situation into account.

My Favorite Dental Products

My Favorite Dental Products

Here is your glimpse inside my medicine cabinet. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite at-home dental products for your enjoyment. I know it can be hard to choose the right products when the aisle at the store seems endless, but keep in mind that what works for me may not be right for you. If you’re confused about what to use, please ask any of the clinical staff members at Northstar. We will be happy to point you in the right direction!

1. Phillips Sonicare DiamondClean.  I LOVE my Sonicare.  I own an Oral-B also, but Sonicare is the right electric toothbrush for me, personally. Ask your hygienist which would be right for you. It’s definitely worth the investment. You’ll never go back to that manual toothbrush!!

2. Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief.  Great toothpaste, especially for those of us with sensitive teeth.  It prevents cavities due to its fluoride content and its unique combination of arginine and calcium carbonate reduce sensitivity instantly, unlike other sensitivity toothpastes that take about 2 weeks to work.

3. Listerine Total Care.  I’m a die-hard Listerine fan.  This specific one contains fluoride in addition to the 4 essential oils that have made Listerine a go-to for over 100 years.  And it doesn’t burn!  (BTW you don’t NEED the burn.  Alcohol free mouthwashes work just as well!)

4. GC MI Paste Plus.  MI Paste is a great treatment for many conditions – dry mouth, sensitivity, acid reflux, acid erosion, “white spot” lesions…. the list goes on.  It contains Recaldent (a milk protein) — calcium and phosphate ions that actually penetrate your teeth and strengthen them from the inside out.  For me, it’s great for the areas where I have some gum recession.  Just rub it on at night after brushing, wait a few minutes and spit out the excess.

5. MI Varnish.  I know it’s not a take home product, but once applied in our office, it continues to work for months! In that sense it’s a take-home product that you don’t even have to think about! Your body does all the work. Yay!

6. Tongue Sweeper.  I never thought I needed a tongue scraper, but boy was I wrong.  Brushing your tongue is great, but using this product is incredible.  Definitely a must.  Makes your breath so fresh, and really makes your mouth feel impeccably clean.

7. REACH cleanpaste.  Choosing the right floss is really a personal preference.  I like thick floss, and this floss cleans well and tastes great.

Let us help you create your own “favorite dental products” stash. Our goal is for you to obtain perfect oral health, but we need your help!

Laser Treatment: Cold Sores & Canker Sores

Laser Treatment: Cold Sores & Canker Sores

Chances are, you or someone you know suffers from oral cold sores or canker sores. An estimated 57% of the population suffers from “cold sores,” (AKA oral herpes simplex), while an estimated 10% of the population has “canker sores.”  Today I want to discuss how these painful and stubborn mouth sores can be treated by us with our new laser.  (That’s it on the right.  It’s so pretty!)

First off, a little info about cold sores and canker sores…

Cold sores (AKA oral herpes simplex) are viral in nature.  Therefore, the lesions are contageous.  Once a person contracts the virus, it can lay dormant between outbreaks, which may be triggered by trauma, stress, sunburn, illness, or cold weather.  They are found on the lips, gingiva (“gums”), and hard palate, and are traditionally treated by antivirals (e.g. Acyclovir).

Canker sores (AKA recurrent aphthous ulcers) are likely autoimmune mediated, and are NOT contageous.  Possible etiological factors include stress/lack of sleep, trauma, immune system reaction, citrus fruit, a deficiency of B12, Iron, or Folic acid, hormonal fluctuations, and allergies (e.g. SLS in most toothpastes!).  They are found on the inner lips, tongue, soft palate, floor of mouth, and buccal mucosa (inner cheek), and are traditionally treated by steroids (usually a mouthwash or gel).

So how can a laser help?  The laser’s energy destroys the virus particles (of cold sores), dries out the lesions, relieves pain by killing nerve endings, and promotes healing via biostimulation from the light.  The procedure is quick and painless

Pain relief is immediate.  Healing time of the cold/canker sore will be significantly decreased.  The best time to come in for laser treatment of your cold/canker sore is when it is still in the burning/tingling stage. Treatment will be more predictable and effective, and the lesion may never develop.  After treatment, both the frequency and intensity of sores will decrease.

Tooth Whitening FAQ

Tooth Whitening FAQ

Who doesn’t want a white, bright smile?  Since tooth whitening has become so popular, I wanted to share some important information on who should bleach, how and when to do it, what to expect, and different products that can be incorporated into your whitening protocol

Contraindications to Whitening

  • Being too young.  “Young” teeth have larger nerve canals and can become irritated from whitening.  Therefore, bleaching should be avoided for those under 16 years old.
  • Being pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Sensitive teeth.  However, I will discuss ways to decrease sensitivity during whitening below.
  • Having cavities or periodontal disease.  The whitening gel will irritate diseased teeth and gums, causing pain.
  • Having large dental restorations.  These materials will not whiten, so they may become pronounced after bleaching.

Northstar Family Dental’s Whitening Protocol:

  • Prior to treatment:  Brush and floss.  Make sure tray is clean and dry, as moisture will decrease the efficiency of the bleaching gel.
  • Apply gel to trays.  Place a SMALL drop of gel on the inner front surface of the tray.  This small amount is all you need!  Any more will be waste, and if it seeps out of the tray, it will cause sensitivity!
  • Insert trays.  Seat firmly and wipe excess gel with a q-tip or your finger.
  • Wearing time.  If you are bleaching for the first time, wear your tray for half the recommended time, increasing the time if little to no sensitivity is experienced.
  • After whitening.  Remove trays and rinse teeth.  Rinse trays and remove excess bleach  with a q-tip or toothbrush (not the one you brush with!)bleach trays2

It is very common for people to use too much bleach in their tray.  I used a blue marker for effect, but those small dots are exactly where the bleach should be placed, and how small those blobs of whitening gel should be!

Should I Avoid Certain Foods and Drinks While Bleaching?It is best to avoid eating or drinking anything that can stain your teeth during bleaching, and for about 3 days after your are done.  When you are actively whitening your teeth, they become dehydrated and more permeable to these staining substances.  Unfortunately, this list of things you should avoid happen to be some of the things we most enjoy!  But think of how white your teeth will be!!

  • Dark beverages.  Coffee, tea, soda, etc.
  • Red wine
  • Juice, smoothies, slushies, popsicles
  • Sauces or marinades that contain balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, beets
  • Dark chocolate
  • Dark soups, stews
  • Smoking, and tobacco of any kind!  (Always!)
  • Very hot or very cold foods and drinks.  They will cause sensitivity!

If you just HAVE to have that cup of coffee, use a straw, and make sure it is not hot!  Rinse your mouth out with water after drinking or eating anything that you think just might cause staining.  And if you slip up, do not worry… You just may have to buy some extra bleach!

What if I Have Sensitive Teeth?


Use a sensitivity toothpaste for 2 weeks prior to bleaching (Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief, Sensodoyne, or Prevident, which you can purchase in-office from us!) Use the toothpaste every time you brush! Purchase Topex White Care Post-Whitening Desensitizer from us, and use as directed. If you experience sensitivity when whitening, skip a day, and when you start again, leave your trays in for half the time. Ease back in to the directed time if you can… If not, you will just have more whitening sessions!

Color Stabilization and White Spots

Bleaching dehydrates your teeth. When you remove your trays, you may notice that some areas appear whiter, and some appear…well… more yellow. This color discrepancy will slowly stabilize. It may take hours to days. After your final bleaching session, your teeth will slightly rebound, then stabilize after 1-2 weeks. If you have white spots before bleaching that become more pronounced after, even, the rebound period, please let us know. There are other in-office treatments that we can use to correct this discrepancy. And always, feel free to call us or stop by if you have any questions!

What is a Root Canal?

It’s always difficult for me to tell a patient they need a root canal, because I always anticipate them to cringe.  For whatever reason, root canals have a bad reputation, but they are truly a comfortable procedure.  In addition, they  have little to no recovery time, and they save a tooth!!

Why may your tooth need a root canal?

Basically, “root canals” are performed to save a tooth that is badly decayed, broken, or a tooth whose nerve is “insulted” from a crack, or an existing filling that is large or deep.  These situations can cause damage to the nerve tissue or pulp, resulting in bacterial breakdown and multiplication within the pulp chamber, or central “core,” of the tooth.

Signs or symptoms that you may need a root canal can include:

  • A severe toothache when chewing
  • Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, especially if this sensitivity lingers
  • A darkening of the tooth
  • Swelling or tenderness
  • A “pimple” on the gums (this may be a sign of an abscess!)

Sometimes NO SYMPTOMS are present.  Radiographic examination may also determine a need for this procedure.

So, what IS a root canal?

First off, a “root canal” is an endodontic procedure.  The term “Endodontics” is derived from the Greek words endo, meaning “inside,” and odons, meaning “tooth.”

The structure of a tooth looks like this:

Root Canal

Inside the harder outer structures of your tooth  is the inner core of the tooth — the pulp.  Inside the pulp are blood vessels and connective tissue, which provide nourishment to the tooth, and also the nerve, which signals your tooth when it is insulted.

When that inner core of your tooth is insulted and/or infected, it must be removed.  And when it is removed, although your tooth is void of sensory feedback, it can still function as a viable part of your dentition.

First, we numb the tooth so that the procedure is painless.  Thea area is protected from contamination by use of a “rubber dam,”  which isolates the tooth and allows us to work in an aseptic field.  Here’s a picture so that you know what to expect.

rubber damIt looks strange, but it does make it comfortable for both the patient (who can swallow on his/her own and doesn’t have to worry about water spray, etc. from the procedure) and for us!

The next step is to remove the pulp of the tooth, and clean and flush the chamber.  The “root canal” is then filled.

After a tooth has had a root canal, it is more brittle, since it no longer is vital and the living tissue has been replaced with, basically, a type of filling material. Therefore, most teeth need a crown or “cap” after a root canal procedure has been performed to provide adequate protection and strength for function.

How long does it take, and what can I expect?

The procedure itself can take an hour or so, especially if the tooth is prepared for the crown at the same appointment.  After the numbness wears off, some soreness may be felt, which will gradually disappear over a couple days.

But smile, because your tooth has been saved!!

For more information, the ADA has provided the following video:  Mouth Healthy – Root Canals

Or check out our page on Root Canals:  Northstar Family Dental – Root Canals

tiger rct


And since I love animals… I have to share the fact that this tiger did, in fact, have a root canal!

(If you’re ever around Indy, please visit the Exotic Feline Rescue Center… it’s truly amazing.)


So, at the end of the day, do not despair if you need a root canal!  At Northstar, we will do everything we can to ensure that the procedure is comfortable and painless… We will even provide you with a neck pillow, a warm blanket, and your favorite TV channel!!  And, best of all, in a short time your tooth will be as good as new!

Zoo Trip & My (Failed) Photography Mission

Zoo Trip & My (Failed) Photography Mission

I spent yesterday at the zoo, and of course, one of my main objectives was to get an amazing picture of an animal’s teeth to share on my new Blog.

I spent 10 minutes with my camera up to a window, trying to get a pic of this beaver’s teeth.  In addition to about 10 pictures of brown blurs, what I got was this… Needless to say, he (or she?) would not cooperate. Also, I am definitely far from a master photographer! But I did learn some interesting facts about the teeth of these interesting animals…

Did You Know…

  • Beavers’ teeth never stop growing!
  • Their teeth are self-sharpening.  They have hard (and orange!) enamel on the front of their teeth, and softer dentin on the back… the back wears faster, creating a sharp (and strong) cutting surface.
  • Beavers’ lips are BEHIND their teeth.  This way, they can carry branches without drowning.
  • Beavers can chew through a six inch tree in 15 minutes!!
Fun Dental Facts

Fun Dental Facts

We are so excited to launch the Northstar Family Dental blog!

To start, I wanted to share some fun, interesting, and strange dental facts with you.  At Northstar, we are all self-proclaimed “dental nerds”… I hope to invoke a love of dentistry in all of you, at least for the next couple minutes!!

  • A lot of people would love to be at the dentist right now!  According to a recent Time Magazine survey, 59% of Americans would rather have a dental appointment than be sitting next to someone talking on a cell phone.
  • Over 5000 years ago, ancient Egyptians used a “toothpaste” made of salt, mint, and pepper.
  • Over a lifetime, ONE cavity will cost you over $2000!  We love to see you, but would rather you save your money…
  • A toothpick is the object most choked on by Americans.  Use floss instead!
  • Like fingerprints, each tongue print is different!  Wonder if that fact was ever used on CSI…
  • There is someone whose job includes squeezing Prince Charles’ toothpaste onto his toothbrush!  The job belongs to Michael Fawcett, his personal valet.
  • People who drink 3 or more sugary drinks daily have 62% more dental decay, fillings, and tooth loss!
  • A snail’s mouth is no longer than the head of a pin, but can contain over 25,000 teeth.
  • George Washington’s dentures were NOT made from wood.  They were actually crafted from gold, ivory, lead (eek!), and a mixture of human, donkey, and hippopotamus teeth!

Stay tuned for future blogs posts… I will cover issues such as the importance of sealants, the truth about fluoride and dental radiation, implants, bad habits, Invisalign, canker sores, implants, and tooth whitening.

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