Patient Education in Minneapolis: Oral & Dental Health Procedures

Patient Education

Thank you for visiting the Patient Education page of Dr. Mintalar's web site. Our dental office offers a variety of services. This page is designed to help answer your questions about a few of the dental procedures we offer.

About Oral Cancer and why we screen for Oral Cancer using ViziLite

The Deadly Statistics

Oral cancer is far too often detected in late stage development -- the primary reason for the high death rate. Oral cancer can have potentially disfiguring effects on patients, seriously compromising their quality of life. Early detection of abnormalities can make a large difference in life expectancy; oral cancer is 90% curable when found early. Unfortunately, 70% of oral cancers are diagnosed in the late stages, and 43% of those diagnosed will die within five years.

For more information about ViziLite:

Famous Victims

Oral cancer has touched the lives of many people; however some of the better known oral cancer victims may surprise you.

From famous baseball players to singing legends, oral cancer can affect anyone. At Mintalar Dental, Dr. Eric Mintalar is skilled in all areas of general and cosmetic dentistry and makes it a priority for his patients to be informed about oral cancer. Routine checkups can detect oral cancer and early detection is the key to better oral health.

  1. Babe Ruth
  2. Sigmund Freud
  3. Jack Klugman
  4. Aaron Spelling
  5. Alan King
  6. Humphrey Bogart
  7. Lana Turner
  8. Eddie Van Halen
  9. Rod Stewart
  10. Bill Blass
  11. Burl Ives
  12. Sammy Davis, Jr.
  13. John Prine
  14. Jim Thorpe
  15. Mary Wells
  16. George Harrison



In the latest technological advances patients and dentists prefer dental restorations done using tooth-colored composites or porcelain. Use of tooth-colored filling material is not restricted to only new restorations. We can also restore older restorations which need replacing. There can be many reasons why your older restorations may require replacing and with our new technological advances we offer safer and esthetic materials. It is no longer necessary to have "silver" fillings, and it is much safer to use tooth-colored ones.


Full crown work is indicated when there has been root canal work, when a lot of tooth structure has been damaged or lost or when a tooth has become cracked, broken or chipped. In our clinic we construct a crown on teeth that have lost sufficient tooth structure to place a filling in. When tooth loss occurs, we may recommend the placement of a bridge. A bridge is one or more replacement teeth anchored by one or more crowns on each side.


We use porcelain veneers when part of the front surface of your tooth requires a brilliant "newness" – a rebirth. This veneer technique is like other techniques such as composite bonding. Here we attach veneers directly to your present tooth structure. First, the doctor may treat the surface of your teeth with special conditioners to prepare you teeth to assimilate the veneer. Then we apply a tooth colored bonding liquid material to the tooth surface which facilitates veneer adhesion. Veneers are extremely useful in reducing "gaps" between teeth and covering unattractive aging stains.


Over the years teeth have a tendency to change color – "yellow" or "stain". With our professional staff and experience we can assist you in whitening and bringing out the luster in previous yellow or discolored teeth. For at-home bleaching, we'll provide you with a special custom-fitted bleaching tray and a whitening gel. For just an hour a day for a couple of weeks or less, this harmless tooth whitening formula can make a big difference in your smile.



Dentures have actually been in use for more than 2,000 years. As substitutes for missing teeth, dentures have been improved so that they are effective, easy to use and aesthetically appealing. Properly fit dentures not only can improve your appearance, but also can help you to eat more comfortably and speak more clearly.


Do I Need Braces?

Anyone who has crooked teeth, spacing between the teeth, protruding upper front teeth, excessive overlapping of the front teeth, protrusive lower front teeth, headaches or jaw pain, inability to bite or chew food easily, missing teeth or difficulty cleaning due to crowded teeth can benefit from braces. Age is not a factor stopping anyone from getting braces.

What Age for Braces?

With the use of modern orthodontic techniques anyone at any age can have braces. We have treated patients ages seven to seventy. New metals and treatment methods allow braces to straighten teeth and align bites faster and more comfortably than ever before.

Why is it important to see the Orthodontist for a screening at age 7?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends an orthodontic screening for all children at the age of 7. At age 7 the teeth and jaws are developed enough so that the orthodontist can see if there will be any serious bite problems in the future. It is very common that permanent teeth are missing, the jaws are not balanced, the front teeth are "bucked or protruding", the upper front teeth fit behind the lower front teeth, the upper jaw is too narrow to fit properly with the lower jaw, there is "crowding" or inadequate room for the teeth to fit in the jaws. Thumb or finger sucking habits can be detected and assessed for their affect on the teeth. Most of the time treatment is not necessary at age 7, but it gives the parents and orthodontists time to watch the development of the patient and decide on the best mode of treatment. When you have time on your side you can plan ahead and prevent the formation of serious problems.

Why is it important to have orthodontic treatment at a young age?

braces - Minneapolis OrthodontistResearch has shown that serious orthodontic problems can be more easily corrected when the patient's skeleton is still growing and flexible. Many of the problems that the orthodontist treats such as protrusive "bucked" teeth and underbites are caused by an imbalance in the jaws. Crowding of the teeth is caused by having teeth that are too big for the size of the jaw. When the bones of the face are still growing it is possible to expand, re-direct the growth and align the jaws. This is not possible when the patient is an adolescent or adult. This part of orthodontics is called Dentofacial Orthopedics. Usually treatment of this type begins at 8.5 - 9 years old and lasts for 12 - 18 months. By correcting the skeletal problems at a younger age we can prepare the mouth for the eventual eruption of the permanent teeth. If the permanent teeth have adequate space to erupt they will come in fairly straight. If the teeth erupt fairly straight their tendency to get crooked again after the braces come off is diminished significantly. After the permanent teeth have erupted, usually from age 12-14 , complete braces are placed for final alignment and detailing of the bite. Thus the final stage of treatment is quicker and easier on the patient. This phase of treatment usually lasts from 12 - 18 month and is not started until all of the permanent teeth are erupted. Doing orthodontic treatments in two steps provides excellent results often allowing the orthodontist to avoid removal of permanent teeth and jaw surgery. The treatment done when some of the baby teeth are still present is called Phase-1. The last part of treatment after all the permanent teeth have erupted is called Phase-2.


Root Canals

Root-canal treatment is often the only way to save your tooth and repair the damage if a tooth's pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels, becomes infected or damaged because of decay or injury. One to three visits is usually required, depending on the pulp's condition. The infection may have to be drained before the root can be filled if the tooth is abscessed.The filling or crown may need to be replaced, but the material used to fill the root canal will probably last a lifetime.

root canal 11. Pulp becomes damaged and infection spreads to the bone and tissues. An abscess forms at the roots.
root canal 22. The dentist makes an opening in it to reach the pulp chamber. The infected pulp is removed, and the chamber and the root(s) are cleaned out, enlarged, and then shaped.
root canal 33. Once clean and free of infection, the pulp chamber and the root canal(s) are filled with a rubberlike material. The tooth is then filled.
root canal 44. The tooth may need a crown as well. Some crowns may need a post and core for additional support.

What is Periodontal Gum Disease?

Teeth are surrounded by several anatomically distinct structures. In figure 1 which is a cross section of a healthy tooth the gingiva (gums) is the pink tissue surrounding the teeth visible to the eye. Out of sight, underneath the gingiva, the periodontal ligament attaches each tooth to the alveolar bone. The gingiva is also attached directly to the teeth, and the small space above this attachment is called a sulcus. The term "periodontal disease" may refer to problems only of the gingiva or to disorders of the deeper structures, such as the underlying bone. Periodontal diseases are broadly classified into gingivitis and periodontitis.


Periodontal DiseaseDefined as inflammation of the gingiva, gingivitis is characterized by red, swollen, bleeding gums. This is the mildest stage of periodontal disease and is common in adults as well as children. There is usually little or no discomfort at this stage and with treatment, gingivitis is usually reversible.


A more advanced stage of the disease, periodontitis involves the inflammation and eventual destruction of the underlying periodontal ligament and the alveolar bone. Figure 2 depicts a periodontally diseased tooth. The normally shallow sulcus is deepened, becoming a pocket and the supporting alveolar bone is destroyed. This illustration shows an instrument called a periodontal probe being gently inserted into the pocket to detect periodontal disease.

What causes periodontal disease?

Periodontal diseases are bacterial gum infections that destroy the attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold your teeth in your mouth. The main cause of these diseases is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. If plaque is not removed on a daily basis it can become organized on the tooth surface and turn into a hard substance called calculus. Calculus, also known as tartar, is calcified dental plaque and is considered a secondary or contributing etiologic factor in causing periodontal diseases.

When plaque and calculus are not removed the bacteria in plaque produce toxins (or poisons) that can destroy the supporting tissues and bone around the teeth. Your own immune system attacks not only these invading bacteria but also the body's own tissues, carving deep pockets between the teeth and gums. As the diseases progress, these pockets deepen, more gum tissue and bone are destroyed and the teeth eventually become loose. If periodontal diseases are not treated, the teeth may eventually need to be removed.

What is the treatment for periodontal diseases?

The first line of defense against periodontal disease is actually prevention. This includes a good oral hygiene routine at home. Brushing at least twice a day and cleaning between teeth once a day with floss helps prevent plaque from accumulating. Depending on the severity of the disease, more in-depth oral hygiene instructions may be recommended. Our dental office staff may provide instructions on additional cleaning methods or oral hygiene products to use at home depending on your specific needs.

Depending on how far the diseases have progressed, treatment can vary widely. In the early stages of gum disease, treatment may involve scaling and root planing. This means removing plaque and calculus in the pockets around the tooth and smoothing the root surfaces. Scaling and root planing helps rid the mouth of infection-causing bacteria and irritants beneath the gumline. More advanced cases may require periodontal surgical treatment. The goals of this treatment are to remove calculus from deep pockets around teeth, reduce the pockets, smooth root surfaces and arrange gum tissue into a shape that will be easier to keep clean.

The many benefits of periodontal treatment include fresh breath, the ability to chew your food more easily, healthy gums that are free from infection and most importantly, helping you achieve your goal of keeping your natural teeth for a lifetime! Whatever the treatment may entail, our goal is to return you to good oral health and then to help you to maintain it.

How can you prevent periodontal diseases from returning?

Periodontal diseases can and will recur if you do not follow a strict program of supportive periodontal therapy. You play the primary role in preventing further outbreaks of disease. Nothing will help you maintain the results of professional treatment better than daily removal of plaque by proper brushing, flossing and other cleaning methods recommended for you. We believe in a team approach to help prevent your periodontal disease from returning.

Once the diseases have been arrested, a regular maintenance (cleaning) recall schedule will be set up for you typically alternating between your general dentist and our office. This ongoing supportive phase of treatment will allow your dental health team to continuously assess your periodontal health and make sure the infection stays under control. During these recall appointments, your mouth is closely examined, new calculus and plaque are removed, your dental restorations (fillings and crowns) are inspected, and your teeth are polished. Remember, good oral hygiene and regular professional care are the keys to preventing dental diseases. By following this simple, straightforward program of good dental health, you can help prevent gum disease and keep your teeth a lifetime

Dental Implants:

Dental implant MinneapolisOne of our important dental services is the restoration of implants. At any age, the loss of teeth can be devastating emotionally, functionally and esthetically. Today's advances in dental science make it possible to feel more confident, restore your chewing efficiency and recover and maintain a more youthful, natural appearance. Dental Implants can provide the most natural and permanent solutions to tooth loss. You will feel good about yourself, feel healthier, look better and smile without reservations. Uncomfortable bridges and dentures are part of the past. The solution today is Dental Implants.

What are dental implants?

Dental Implants are artificial substitutes for natural tooth roots. Dental implants are actually small titanium anchors shaped like screws that are placed into the jawbone. Although dental implants have been used in the United States and Europe for more than thirty years, the recent technological advancements in the titanium metal and surgical techniques have dramatically improved the implant success rate. In general, the success rate of dental implants is around 95%. Dental implants can provide non-removable tooth replacements in the toothless jaw. They can provide support for a full denture, making it more secure and comfortable or they can assist in the replacement of a single tooth without the need to alter adjacent natural teeth (figure 1 and 2).

How are dental implants placed?

The total implant process is a technically exacting procedure. The evaluation to determine if the patient is a good candidate for a dental implant may include a series of radiographs (x-rays), the construction of cast molds, or the fabrication of a template that will be used to help position the implant. Once the area for implant placement has been determined (figure 3), the next step is the surgical placement. After the site is prepared, the implant fixture is screwed or pressed into the jawbone (figure 4). The implant will then go through a process called osseointegration, where the bone will actually grow around the implant at the cellular level. This period, when the implant and the bone integrate, can take anywhere from three to six months depending on the quality of the bone and where the implant is placed. Following the appropriate healing period the top of the implant fixture is exposed and the new tooth prosthesis is attached (figure 5).

How long will dental implants last?

If cared for properly, dental implants can last a lifetime. After treatment is completed, implants are similar to teeth in that they require the same, if not better home care. Brushing, flossing and regular dental visits are essential to the long term success of the implant. Losing one or more teeth can certainly be a traumatic experience with devastating functional and psychological implications. Today, dental implants can once again return the patient to the level of comfort, confidence and well being that they once had.

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