Fillings: Know the difference between Alloy and Composite

Fillings are one of the many restorative options available for your teeth. Depending on your oral status and if decay is present, your dentist might recommend a filling as a restorative option. There are a few fillings we place here in the office called; composite and amalgam/ or alloy fillings.

Amalgam fillings are silver in color, are usually placed in the posterior teeth. Amalgam fillings are very durable and can with stand the intense pressure of chewing and grinding. However, amalgam fillings are a conductor of hot and cold temperature changes in the mouth from eating and drinking and can cause the filling to expand/contract and over time your teeth might form cracks around the existing filling. This may lead to being replaced over time. Cracks or open margins around the fillings can cause bacteria to get under the filling and create decay into the tooth, which is why check up x-rays and cleanings are so important! Your dentist can keep watch of your fillings and catch cracks or decay early before they cause a real issue like a root canal or crown.

Composite fillings are white in color and can be placed on any tooth in the mouth. With the composite fillings they blend into your teeth and are very esthetically pleasing. Composite fillings also can help prevent cracks from spreading due to the bonding agents used to place the filling. However, placing a composite filling is very technique sensitive and need to have a dry tooth in order to have the filling placed, therefore the dentist might not recommend them on the second or third molars. Composite fillings have less sensitivity issues and tend to be more comfortable after restorations are complete.

If you are recommended to have a filling placed and want to know more about the difference, please talk to your dentist about your options!

Patty, Dental Assistant

Periodontal Disease: Don’t Wait Until it Hurts

You’ve probably heard of the term gum disease before. Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease, which is an infection and inflammation that affects the tissues and bone that support your teeth. Treating gum disease in the early stages is very important and can help prevent tooth loss. Inflammation and infection in your mouth can be correlated to your whole-body health. Gum disease has been linked to other diseases such as diabetes or heart disease, and can be associated with strokes and high stress. Your mouth is the first pathway to your entire body, so it is very important to maintain great oral health!

Warning signs of gum disease include, but are not limited to:

  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
  • Gums that are red, swollen, puffy or tender
  • Gums that no longer tightly hug your teeth
  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Feeling that your teeth are loose

Are you at risk?

Anyone can get gum disease, but there are factors that can increase your risks of getting it:

  • Poor homecare – not brushing two times a day and flossing once daily
  • Tobacco use – both smoking and smokeless
  • Gums that no longer tightly hug your teeth
  • Diseases that affect the whole body such as diabetes, HIV, heart disease
  • Medications
  • Teens, pregnant women, women on birth control pills
  • Family history of tooth loss
  • Bacteria that causes gum disease can be passed from person to person through saliva

You may not have any signs of gum disease at all, so that is why it’s important to see your dental hygienist and dentist on a regular basis. Together we can work together to get rid of the bacteria that is fighting against your overall health.

Chelsie, RDH

Preventing Decay

Did you know you can protect the chewing surface of your tooth with sealants?  The chewing surface of your tooth has indentations called pits and fissure.  These pits and fissure collect food and bacteria making them more prone to tooth decay.  Your toothbrush bristles can’t reach into the grooves eventually this results in tooth decay.  The good news is that sealants can be applied to protect these grooves.   Sealants are easy to apply and it takes only a few minutes.  First, the teeth are cleaned and prepared to accept the sealant.  The flow able material called sealant is painted on the tooth.  Then a special curing light is used to harden the sealant.  Sealants are generally clear or white. You can’t see them when you smile but they are there protecting the chewing surface of your tooth.  It is important to avoid chewing ice or hard candy because it can chip the sealants off.  As long as the sealant is remains intact the surface will be protected from food and plaque.  Sealants will last a few years before they have to be done again.  Lastly, it is important to see a dentist regularly so he or she can check the sealants remains intact.

Janine Park

Why Doesn’t My Insurance Pay for This?

This has come up a lot in our office lately; I hope this will answer some of your questions.

Having dental coverage can make it easier to get the dental care you need. But, it’s important to understand that most dental benefit plans do not cover all dental procedures. This blog can help you understand why your plan may or not pay for all or ever a portion of your recommended treatment. Your treatment should be determined by you and your dentist not by your dental coverage.

Many plans are a contract between your employer and a dental plan provider, or a policy you buy on your own, these plans are agreed on an amount the plan pays and what procedures are covered. Dr Tanner is not involved in deciding your level of coverage.

Dr Tanner’s primary goal is to help you maintain good dental health. However your plan may not cover a portion or all of the procedure he recommends. To avoid surprises on your bill you must understand what and how much your plan will pay.

I am seeing a lot of pre-existing conditions now and I would be happy to pre-authorize any treatment that has been recommended to you, to find out how much would be covered for you. Also some plans replacement clauses have change to no coverage on a crown unless it is older than 10 years.

Many dental plans state that only procedures that are medically or dentally necessary will be covered. If denied it does not mean that the services were not necessary. The decision is yours, with Dr Tanner’s recommendation.

I am here to assist you with your insurance questions. Feel free to contact me at 245.4922. I can also look into your insurance for you.


Thanks for your time


Bedtime Ideas for Littles

Let’s chat about the struggles of our children not wanting to brush their teeth before bedtime. In our household it used to be a constant battle. We as parents are burnt out at the end of the day and when it comes to brushing, it’s easy to not follow through and it is the last thing our kids want to do. BUT… I have found a few fun tricks that have helped my child be more motivated to brush those little chompers. Keep in mind, these won’t work with everyone or every kid, but they are worth a try!

  1. Teaching them ‘HOW’ we brush our teeth. Children are sponges, and mine loves to learn new things that she can share with her friends. So this is a motivator for her because she loves the idea of knowing more! I found this great video on YouTube that demonstrates the process, and easy for toddlers to follow! PLUS it is 2min long and to a nursery rhyme so it is easy to remember!
  2. Implementing new tools! Kids are curious, and bring new products/instruments for them to use in their mouth is fantastic. We have used different flossers, electric tooth brushes, flavored tooth paste, etc. This also helps them make decisions of what they do and don’t like. We like TOM’s fluoride free training tooth paste, the Crayola kids flossers by SunStar GUM (different colors to choose from in one pack) and Colgate battery operated spin brush (with Poppy from DreamWorks Trolls).
  3. Make a Chart! Kids need routine, so making them a chart helps them remember to brush! And they like reward—so giving them a gold star, or working toward a goal at the end of the week or month makes it fun! We like to set a goal for each week and then an overall goal for the month. Showing them the progress is a great motivator! He is an example:

Good oral hygiene is key for children avoiding long term affects into their adult years, so preparing them now with good habits will pay off in the end! I hope some of these ideas help, or help you formulate your own ideas with your children. Thanks for reading!


November 2017 – Sleep

Few things are as misunderstood as sleep. Some new studies have helped us understand it better and I wanted to share some of the more recent findings.

For physical, mental, and emotional health, there is nothing better than deep reparative sleep. Here is the problem; all sleep medications are in the sedative hypnotic family, this does not put you in a healthy reparative delta wave sleep, but a hypnotic state that actually prevents you from going into deep sleep. Though sleep medications might seem helpful, long term they have been proven to show a highly increased risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s. Some people think melatonin is a helpful sleep aid. Melatonin has nothing to do with the mechanisms of healthy sleep, but is a crucial factor in the timing of sleep. As soon as your body perceives it is getting dark outside you start producing melatonin. As the days are getting shorter, and it gets dark earlier and earlier, you will notice a tendency to want to go to sleep earlier, this is due to melatonin.

Melatonin can be incredibly helpful in helping you adjust to a time change when traveling or if you work evenings in a well lit office to help your body think it’s night time. The real factor and issue with sleep is adenosine. The second you wake up your body starts producing adenosine. During the day as your adenosine builds up you will get more and more tired, until finally you have enough adenosine in your system to require sleep. So why doesn’t everybody feel sleepy? Why do more than 70% of Americans need to rely on some sort of sleep aid every night? It comes down to the second highest commodity traded in the world. The highest traded substance is petroleum. Any guesses as to what reigns in at number 2??? Yep, it’s caffeine.

In its variety of forms, coffee, tea, soda, caffeine is distributed more widely than anything else. Any guesses what caffeine does?? The mechanism of caffeine is to block the build up of adenosine. So the more caffeine you imbibe, the slower the adenosine builds up, the less tired you are when it’s time to sleep, the more likely you are to take a sleeping aid to go to sleep, the less likely you are to get a good restful sleep, the more tired you are when you wake up, the more likely you are to have caffeine in the morning to help you get started etc. etc. So what are we to do?

Sleep is crucial to our health and happiness, if you find yourself unable to sleep without a sleep aid here are some helpful tips so you can lower your risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s and increase your healthy restorative, reparative sleep and be happier. The first and most helpful thing you can do is minimize or curb entirely your caffeine intake. The second thing is to find a way to go outside when it starts getting dark, go for a walk in the evenings, or open your windows and turn off most of your electric lights in your home when it’s dark outside so your body can start generating melatonin faster. Hopefully this will help some of you felt more rested and healthy.

August 2017 – Summer Fun

Summertime means longer days, camping, movies, school/church camps, concerts/symphonies in the park along with many outdoor activities, vacations, stay-cations and honeydew lists.  When the Montana fair comes to town we know school is right around the corner.

This time of year can bring about new beginnings. For some people it can mean retirement, empty nesters, college, high school, middle school, and primary school. The stores have been preparing for back to school and will be packed with shoppers.  I look forward to getting back into a routine. Organization and preparation is one of the keys for back to school routines and is very helpful with busy school schedules.  As you prepare for back to school remember take care of your most important asset, you! If you are a teacher or an administrator we have a Thank You gift!

August is Teacher Appreciation Month. Dr Tanner is offering free take home whitening to all Billings and surrounding area teachers and school administrators.  If you always wanted a whiter brighter smile call us today. This is Dr Tanner’s way of saying THANK YOU for all you do to empower our community by equipping kids for the future.

Lisa Lovering, MADAA

July 2017 – Invisalign

Invisalign are clear aligners (clear plastic trays), also known as clear-aligner treatment, that are orthodontic devices that use incremental transparent aligners to adjust teeth as an alternative to traditional metal braces.

Invisalign is a multi step process to getting the straight teeth you have always dreamed of! At Grand Avenue Dental Care we use a digital scanner called Itero that takes a 3D image of your teeth. After the scans are complete we send them to have your trays made. Before we submit to the company the patient will sit down with Dr. Tanner and go over how many trays you will need to complete your treatment and be shown a digital video on how their teeth will move over time.

When the patient decides to proceed with treatment we process and have the trays made and sent to our office and in about two weeks you’ll be starting your Invisalign journey!

Patient testimony:

“I went through Invisalign for roughly a year and a half and now I have the smile I have always dreamed of having!

The first few trays are getting used to the tightness of the tray but also getting used to changing your dental routine. You have to floss and brush after eating or drinking anything other than water or food because it will get jammed up into your gum tissues. After roughly a month I came back into the office to have the attachments (buttons) placed, Dr. Tanner placed composite attachments to my teeth matching the shade my teeth. After bonding the attachments in place I got my new set of trays and then the moving really got going. Every 6 weeks you come in for a new set of trays, the appointments take very little time out of your day, sometimes Dr. Tanner has to INP (interporximal stripping) to make sure your teeth have enough room to move and floss. After my last trays we removed the buttons and I was placed in my Viveras (night retainers) full time for a month for the bone to harden then graduated to just at night! I am so glad I went through this journey, not only do I have a smile I have always wanted but also boosted my self confidence! Invisalign was one of the best choices I have ever made about my dental health!” –Patty

Patricia Furman, CDA

May 2017 – Oil Pulling….”Pulling your Leg!”

This is a misunderstood topic for the general public and extremely frustrating topic for dental professionals. I recently was on a social media site..ahem… Facebook, and noticed comments on oil pulling being a miracle cure, this couldn’t be farther from the truth! While studies have shown coconut oil reduces the bacterial load in a person’s mouth, it is not significant enough to stop decay. Oil pulling does not deplete bacterial causing decay either. The best thing to do to prevent decay is: mouth washes, flossing, brushing, and toothpaste containing fluoride and of course a fun meeting with your dental hygienist every 6 months.

Laura G. CDA, CPT, CNA

Cited Source:
Beck, Julie. The Atlantic. “Swishing With Oil for Oral Health: Not Recommended.” March 19th, 2014.

April 2017 – Oral Cancer

Spring at last! Now into April, two important topics take the spotlight in dentistry.

The first topic is oral cancer. Early detection and treatment is key to increasing survival. Do you know the signs?

Some Signs and symptoms of oral cancer

  • difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • ear pain
  • difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
  • hoarseness
  • numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth
  • swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable
  • soreness or a feeling that something is caught in the throat
  • lump or thickening of tissues inside mouth
  • red and/or white lesions that do not heal anywhere in the mouth or throat
  • sore or irregular moles on lips that do not resolve

Especially with the wonderful weather around the corner, be aware of the terrible triad!
Smoking, drinking alcohol, and sun exposure (especially done at the same time) greatly increase your chances of developing oral cancer.

It is recommended to have an annual exam and screening with your dentist to check for any abnormalities, but first line of defense often lies with you taking note of any changes or unusual findings. When in doubt, call your dentist or doctor to be checked.
More good information and support can be found on

The second topic is mouth guards. Sports are a great way for our children and us to stay healthy and socially involved, and they are tons of fun. Why let a mouth injury ruin that?

Mouth guards are an easy way to prevent serious injuries to the mouth and teeth. They help cushion a blow to the face decreasing risk of broken teeth and injuries to your lips, tongue, face and jaw.

Custom fit sports guards made by your dental office are superior for fit, comfort, and quality protection, but the over the counter guards also provide protection if cost is a factor. So, protect that smile, and make sure to put in that sports guard!

Christina Smith, RDH