Monticello Family Dentistry

Bright White Smile

Many patients desire whiter teeth. There are a few things to keep in mind before deciding if you should whiten your teeth and which whitening products are the best for you.

Before beginning a whitening regiment, patients should have an exam to ensure there are no underlying dental conditions. Gum disease, gum recession, dental restorations and age can all influence whether whitening is good choice for you.

The three options for whitening include in office, prescription strength trays that you wear at home and over the counter. In office whitening is the fastest and can lighten your teeth in just a few hours. Sensitivity and over whitening are more common with in office whitening. Prescription strength whitening trays are typically done over the period of a few weeks. It allows patients to fine tune the amount of whitening they receive and typically there is less sensitivity than in office whitening. Over the counter whitening also allows a gradual whitening and like prescription strength trays there is generally reduced sensitivity.

We encourage you to consult with your dentist before starting any whitening regiment.

Top 5 Risky Behaviors

Five common habits that could easily chip, crack or damage your teeth and gums.

  1. Chewing ice
  2. Opening packages with your teeth
  3. Chewing pens and pencils
  4. Oral piercings
  5. Not using a sports mouthguard
  • information provided by


Getting the most out of your gum.

Preventing Decay with Xylitol

In the days before water fluoridation, decay was a huge and terrible problem. Fluoride has helped to significantly reduce decay, and now it is uncommon to find rampant decay in people under the age of 40.

Those of us who are over the age of 40 are still susceptible to decay, especially if we are taking medications that cause dry mouth. When we have dry mouth, it changes the balance in the battle between our immune system and the bacteria that cause decay. If we use candy like peppermints or lemon drops to help moisten our mouth, it is even worse. Sugarless gum is a good alternative, because it does not “feed” the bacteria that cause decay. Gum that contains Xylitol is even better, because research has found that Xylitol actually reduces the bacteria that cause decay.

Xylitol is a natural sugar that is found in Birch trees. It is very unique because we humans can taste it and digest it, but bacteria cannot digest it. The really cool thing is that the bacteria do not know that they cannot digest it, so they wear themselves out going through all of the effort trying to eat it. None of the other sweeteners have this effect.

Xylitol is rather expensive to produce, so manufacturers like to substitute other sweeteners like Sorbitol to reduce their cost. It takes at least 500mg of Xylitol to have any effect, so if Xylitol is not listed first among the ingredients, there is probably not enough. If Sorbitol is listed first, then it won’t work.

Until recently it was difficult to find a reasonably priced source of Xylitol chewing gum, but now Hershey’s has come out with a line of chewing gum that is called “Ice Cubes” that contains 1000mg of Xylitol in each piece. It can be found at most candy stands, and it is not expensive.

Researchers suggest chewing one piece for 5 minutes three times a day. This will help to stimulate the natural moisture in your mouth and reduce the harmful bacteria that cause cavities.

Kids and Tooth Decay

The prevalence of cavities in children has decreased with every decade since the 1970s until the mid 1990s. Cavities are the second most common chronic disease in kids behind the common cold. According to the National Institute of Health 42% of kids between the ages of 2 and 11 have a cavity on their baby teeth. 21% of kids ages 6 to 11 have cavities on their adult teeth.

At Monticello Family Dentistry we recommend that all children have a dental home by age one. We also recommend that parents continue to brush their kids teeth until they can legibly and consistently write their first name without assistance.

Manual vs. Electric Toothbrushes

Many patients ask us if there is a benefit to owning an electric toothbrush. Manual and electric toothbrushes provide the same quality of service, but the electric brush is more efficient in removing plaque. Electric brushes may improve patient’s hygiene where dexterity is a concern or in patients undergoing orthodontic treatment. In more expensive models, a pressure sensor may assist in patients with recession or sensitivity. With the holidays around the corner an electric toothbrush may be an excellent gift idea. The Sonicare FlexCare Platinum model will be available for purchase in office exclusively for patients on Monticello Family Dentistry. Although we have Sonicares available to our patients there are several other brushes and brands that also do a good job. Please select the brush that will work best for you.

Keep your teeth strong over the holidays!

The holidays are just around the corner and so are the holiday treats. Foods such as candy, cakes and cookies contain little nutritional value and the types of sugars they contain adhere to teeth more readily.  Bacteria in your mouth consume these sugars and lead to cavities.  Slowly sipping sugary drinks throughout the day gives bacteria an ample food supply and in many people will lead to tooth decay.  It is better to drink a sugary drink quickly and rinse with water afterwards.  Without question water is the most tooth friendly beverage option.

You may want to consider cheese, milk, yogurt and almonds as these all contain high levels of calcium which is great for your teeth health.  Foods rich in phosphorus such as meat and eggs also help to protect and rebuild tooth enamel.  Foods high in water and fiber such as fruits and vegetables stimulate saliva and help to clean the teeth.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Q and A with Dr. Block

CC48246A-7A25-486E-90F5-EF67B0ADB635Q: Why did you go into dentistry?
A: I went into dentistry because I have always enjoyed the medical sciences. I saw dentistry as a great way to have a practice where I can develop long term relationships with patients and take care of their dental needs.
Q: What drew you to Monticello Family Dentistry?
A: I joined Monticello Dentistry in 2006. I was seeking a practice in the area and had a chance to meet Dr. Erickson who was looking for another dentist to join the practice.  I knew it was a great fit, as our practice philosophies were so similar.  Monticello is a great growing community, and is a wonderful place to establish a practice.
Q: What is your favorite part of Dentistry?
A: My favorite part of dentistry is working with patients and developing a long term relationship with them.  It is very rewarding to be able to help patients with their needs and be there for them over their lifetime.

Q and A with Dr. Biorn

Dr. Steven BiornQ: Why did you go into dentistry?
A: The main reason I became a dentist is due to the entrepreneurial aspect that dentistry is able to provide unlike many other healthcare careers.  It is one of the only remaining professions with true autonomy.
Q: What drew you to Monticello Family Dentistry?
A: Ever since I deployed with the National Guard unit based in Monticello, this city has had a special place in my heart.
Q: What is your favorite part of Dentistry?
A: I really enjoy interacting with patients and the variety of procedures I perform each day.  Every patient has a story to tell and every procedure provides a different challenge.

Q and A with Dr. Erickson

13001293_1002685999797710_656688658864373322_nQ: Why did you get into dentistry?

A: When I was in college, I was a Chemistry major, and I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the health sciences. I completed the prerequisites for dental school a year earlier than medical school, so I applied and was accepted to the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

Q: What are you looking forward to in retirement?

A: I am in a curious form of retirement, as I plan to continue to work at Monticello Family Dentistry for a few years, all be it in a pretty part time basis. I enjoy the people that I interact with on both sides of the process. I am enjoying time to spend with friends and family, and playing golf. My wife and I are developing a great relationship with our grandchildren.

Q: What drew you to the Monticello Family Dentistry?

A: My wife and I have always enjoyed this part of Minnesota and the Monticello area. I purchased a small dental practice in 2002 and as a result of the wonderful folks in Monticello it has become “Monticello Family Dentistry.”

Q: What is your favorite part of dentistry?

A: I love people. I enjoy a profession where I can focus on doing my best with a service that improves quality of life.

John A Erickson DDS

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