Dr. Harbin is dedicated to informing their patients on the most up-to-date and applicable dental information available. For valuable patient education, please review the following oral health topics.


For decades, fluoride has been held in high regard by the dental community as an important mineral that is absorbed into and strengthens tooth enamel, thereby helping to prevent decay of tooth structures.

In nearly every U.S. community, public drinking supplies are supplemented with sodium fluoride because the practice is acknowledged as safe and effective in fighting cavities.

Some private wells may contain naturally fluoridated water.

What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a compound of the element fluorine which is or can be found throughout nature in water, soil, air and food. By adding fluoride into our drinking water, it can be absorbed easily into tooth enamel, especially in children’s growing teeth, which helps to reduce tooth decay.

Why is fluoride important to teeth?
Fluoride is absorbed into structures, such as bones and teeth, making them stronger and more resistant to fractures and decay. A process in your body called “remineralization” uses fluoride to repair damage caused by decay.

How do I get fluoride?
Just drinking public water may provide a certain measure of fluoride protection. For years, health professionals have endorsed the practice of supplementing our intake with certain dietary products, and topical fluorides in many toothpastes and some types of mouth rinses. Certain beverages such as tea and soda may also contain fluoride. Certain kinds of dental varnishes may be applied directly to teeth to boost fluoride intake.

Fluoride Safety
It is generally NOT safe to swallow toothpastes, rinses, or other products containing topical fluoride. In rare cases, some people may be overexposed to high concentrations of fluoride, resulting in a relatively harmless condition called fluorosis, which leaves dark enamel stains on teeth.

Preventive Care

You, as a patient, have the most control over your daily preventive dental habits. If you maintain proper dental care for your teeth, you can prevent new cavities, preserve any dental restorations, and maintain optimal periodontal health. Here are a few suggestions for your daily dental habits:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day, especially at night, in a circular motion aimed at the gums.
  • Floss daily, being sure to floss in a “u” shape.
  • Refrain from smoking and excessive consumption of sugary foods.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Try to use antiseptic and fluoride mouthwash.

Infection Control

The following health and safety practices are performed daily at every hygienic dental practice:

  • Wearing gloves, gowns, and masks for every patient’s visit
  • All disposable personal protective equipment, such as gloves, drapes, needles, and scalpel blades, are thrown away after each use
  • Hands are washed consistently throughout the day and between every patient’s visit
  • Follow the infection control guidelines received from the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association
  • All hand instruments used on patients are sterilized after each use

Medication and Heart Disease

Many Americans are using some kind of medication or prescription drug. These medications can have an interference on your dental health care which is often ignored. Supplying your current medication list is vital information to find the most suitable and applicable oral health care for your needs. Side effects of certain medications can include: dry mouth, changes in taste, oral lesions, abnormal bleeding and/or swelling, tooth discoloration, and jaw clenching/teeth grinding.

It is proven that oral bacteria strains that worsen periodontal disease can attach to the coronary arteries and, in turn, contribute to the formation of blood clots and the narrowing of the coronary arteries. The American Academy of Periodontology suggests that patients whose bodies react to periodontal bacteria have an increased risk of developing heart disease.

Latex Allergy

Non-latex products do not contain the same proteins in latex products that can cause allergic reactions for some patients. We recommend seeing your doctor if you are experiencing the following symptoms of a latex allergy:

  • Skin reactions like itching, redness, rash, or hives
  • Itchy nose, throat, or eyes
  • Difficulty breathing, including a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, or wheezing

Please be sure to inform your dentist if you suspect you have allergies to latex products so we can provide safe, applicable care.

Age and Oral Health

Your oral health can be compromised or challenged by many aspects as you age. Be sure to maintain your dental hygiene habits and see your dentist for regular checkups. Be aware of the side effects associated with any medication use, as this helps determine how we provide the most suitable dental care for you as well. We encourage you to talk to our dentist about concerns you may have regarding your dentition and age.

Tobacco and Oral Piercings

Please be aware that though oral and facial piercings are for self-expression, they can also be dangerous to oral health. The mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection or swelling often occur with mouth piercings. Other piercings in the lip or cheek can damage the gums or teeth.

Smokers are about twice as likely to lose their teeth or require root canal treatment as non-smokers. Smoking increases the risk of cavities and gum recession. In as little as three to four months, smokeless tobacco use can cause periodontal disease and produce lesions called leukoplakias. Tobacco reduces the body’s ability to fight infection, including those in the mouth and gums. Smoking also limits the growth of blood vessels which slows the healing of gum tissue after oral surgery or injury. We strongly recommend against any sort of tobacco use.

Please contact our office at (989) 448‑2664 today if you have any questions about maintaining oral hygiene in Gaylord, Michigan, for yourself or your child, or would like to schedule a visit to Otsego Dental Group.