Lincoln Hygienist


LWA Q&A with Our Lincoln Hygienist

Our Lincoln Hygienist is a crucial part of our compassionate dental team in helping to educate patients about dental procedures and on a connection about a healthy mouth and overall health.  Meet our wonderful Lincoln hygienist, Kara.

Kara is passionate about helping her patients to feel comfortable in her care while providing simple dental cleanings or deep cleanings for the treatment of Periodontal disease.  Kara believes that healthy mouth goes hand in hand with a healthy body.

Kara is passionate about educating patients in a non-judgemental manner by simply providing education and never nagging at them. Today she answers some of the most common questions by patients.


lincoln hygienist of kara

To start off, what does your average Lincoln hygienist do?

Kara: Of course! A Lincoln hygienist is actually a relatively broad category. You can find hygienists in all sorts of different kinds of practices and can also find hygienists working for specialists, public health practices. Hygienists can do cleanings, educate about common dental conditions and treat periodontal disease.


CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: Do your Lincoln dentists place amalgam fillings?

Kara: No, we do not.  Amalgam fillings act more as a wedge in the tooth to fill in the cavity, whereas white fillings bond specifically to the tooth. Overtime silver fillings tend to break down, corrode, and pull away from the tooth, which can cause leaks and cracks that harbor bacteria and cause more decay.

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: I’ve heard that people can develop bacteria even under their fillings. Is this true?

Kara: Absolutely. The hardest areas to keep clean in our mouths are between the teeth.  This is the most common area to get decay on a tooth.  When bacteria stays between the teeth, it can start to eat away at the tooth, especially underneath an old filling.  When recurrent decay happens, it’s best to remove the new cavity and replace the filling.

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: Are certain teeth more important than others?

Kara: Well, we do get our first molars when we’re just six years old. These molars are our important chewing teeth, as they take about 80% of our grinding forces. It’s very important to replace missing six-year molars to avoid putting more pressure on their surrounding teeth. This can cause those teeth to crack and break, which can result in losing multiple teeth.


lincoln hygienist kara

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: Can we place crowns over six-year molars?

Kara: Yeah, definitely. The first molars in our teeth are the workhorses of the mouth. We put about 80% of our chewing forces on these teeth. Having a large filling on these teeth make them more compromised to cracking or breaking. In situations where they break, it’s best to place a crown over them, which is essentially a hard protective shell over the tooth that makes it stronger and prevents cracking.


CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: What is cracked tooth syndrome?

Kara: Teeth take a lot of biting forces in our mouth. Anytime a tooth has a large filling, it becomes weaker. Since it can’t withstand the biting forces like it used to, the tooth can begin to crack. If that crack grows over time, it can eventually reach the nerve of the tooth, causing a painful sensation when biting down.  It is best to protect an early crack using a crown. We call this cracked tooth system.

A cracked tooth may lead to a severe toothache and sharp pain upon chewing.

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: Receding gums are really common. Any tips for patients with receding gums?

Kara: Being a hygienist in Lincoln, I see lots of cases of receding gums. Using a hard bristled brush or brushing too hard can begin to brush away the gums, which causes the roots of our teeth to become exposed. When roots are exposed, they do not have that strong outer layer of enamel to protect against cavities, making it an easier area for decay to occur.

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: What about clenching or grinding teeth?

Kara: Grinding happens during stressful periods in our lives when we are sleeping or awake. Grinding or clenching can hurt the teeth causing wear on the top and loss of enamel, exposing the second and more sensitive layer of our teeth. The best way to protect teeth from grinding at night is to wear a night guard.

Grinding puts a lot of pressure on our teeth. When this happens, extra pressure is placed on existing fillings, especially silver ones. The silver fillings tend to expand and contract

over time.  This along with grinding can cause the silver filling to break away from the tooth, leaving a crack for bacteria to trap down in and cause recurrent decay.

For grinders, we offer a custom-made night guard that is affordably priced at $75


lincoln hygienist patient

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: What’s the best solution for nighttime teeth grinding?

Kara: When we grind our teeth at night, it’s out of our control. A night guard is the best solution to prevent wearing away the teeth due tonight grinding. It does not stop the grinding process, but it provides a softer cushion for the teeth and allows them to wear the guard, rather than wear away the opposing teeth.


CAQ to Lincoln hygienist:  What does “super-eruption” mean?

Kara: Any time we are missing teeth, the surrounding teeth want to fill in that space, which causes them to shift. When missing a bottom molar, the tooth above it no longer has a tooth to bite against, causing it to come out of its pocket. This is called super-eruption and often results in the loss of that tooth. It is best to fill in that missing space with an implant to avoid this from happening.

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: A lot of people chew ice. I can’t imagine that being great for our teeth. Care to speak to that? And do you chew ice?

Kara: Chewing ice not only puts extreme pressure on our teeth but also an extreme temperature change. Similar to extreme immediate temperature change with glass, the tooth acts the same in response to the ice, causing it to break and crack easily. As a Lincoln hygienist, I recognize the dangers of ice-chewing, so it isn’t something I do.

Let’s switch gears a little. E-cigarettes are a common topic in our office. Lots of people switch to e-cigarettes to quit smoking. Tell me a little bit about that.

Kara: Tobacco and e-cigarettes can both cause harm to the body in many ways. They particularly hurt our gums. Smoking e-cigarettes or holding tobacco in the pockets of our mouth constantly places a chemical against our natural tissues, which can cause them to destruct. This can cause recession of the gums as well, where they start to pull away from the teeth and cause sensitivity.

lincoln hygienist kara

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist:  I’ve heard that chemotherapy is bad for a person’s oral health. Is that true?

Kara: Anytime we have radiation therapy or chemo, it causes damage to the cells in our body, particularly our mouths and the salivary glands. With this happening, our mouths can get very dry during and even months after treatment. Our best natural defense against cavities is our saliva, and without it, we become more cavity prone. It is important to keep the mouth sugar free and as moist as possible in these times.  Drinking water, using Biotene mouth rinse or spray, and adding fluoride via prescription toothpaste or mouth rinse are the most helpful solutions.

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: What about probiotics? What’s the good in adding them to our diets?

Kara: Millions of bacteria, good and bad, are in our mouths at any given time. A good dental homecare routine will take care of the bad bacteria that reside in our mouths. By adding a good probiotic to our diet, we can attack the bad bacteria from the inside of our bodies. These both are then working together help to create a healthy body and immune system to protect against cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease.

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: Anything else that you’d recommend adding to a diet?

Kara: Vitamin C is important in order to have a strong immune system to help our bodies fight against the bad bacteria, especially in our mouths where millions of bacteria harbor. Vitamin D is also especially important in the growth and development of bone and teeth, especially in children. Without vitamin D, the bone that forms in the jaw isn’t mineralized, which can make it easier for bone loss and gum disease to occur in the future.

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: How do you feel about soda?

Kara: Sugary drinks can be very damaging to our teeth. This includes soda, juice, sports drinks, etc. These liquids contain sugars, which in excess is not only poor for our health but also our teeth. The sugars feed the bacteria that live in our mouth, which in turn causes them to eat away at our teeth. It is best to eat or drink sugary foods, in short, confined periods of time or not at all, rather than to sip on them all day long.


lincoln hygienist patient

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: How do you feel about soda: What’s halitosis? 

Kara: Halitosis is bad breath, which can be caused by many different things. The foods we eat, tonsil stones, and not following excellent home care habits, such as daily brushing or flossing, can all attribute to bad breath. A good home care routine, especially brushing the tongue and rinsing with Listerine is the first step in fighting bad breath.  Taking probiotics can help to change the flora, bacterial content in our mouth, leading to a better breath.

Also, replacing failing dental work can be the best treatment for bad breath.


CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: A lot of our patients get cold sores. How do you recommend people treat them?

Kara: Cold sores show up at stressful times in our lives. The best treatment, other than avoiding stress, is to place cold sore topical cream, such as Abreva and/or Lysine at the first sign of getting a cold sore.

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: What about canker sores?

Kara: Canker sores are similar. They can happen from stress, acidic foods, and drinks, or trauma in our mouths. The best treatment is to rinse with warm salt water or Listerine, and if needed, place a topical anesthetic to relieve pain.

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: What is “geographic tongue, black tongue?” And what’s the best way to find oral cancer?

Kara: The cause of geographic tongue is unknown. It usually isn’t harmful or painful. Most of the time it caused by smoking or allergies. It is also important to keep the tongue very clean by brushing it gently and using a mouth rinse.

Oral cancer can be found mainly in the soft tissues in the mouth, especially the tongue and cheeks. It’s important to check vestibule areas in a patient who uses tobacco. Any tissue that does not look consistent with “normal” oral cavities should bring up questions for the patient. How long has it been there? Is it painful? Does it change in size? Things like that.


lincoln hygienist of kara

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: What is TMD and what’s the best treatment?

Kara: TMD stands for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. It basically constitutes serious jaw pain and stiffness. The best treatment for TMD is to simply “baby” the jaw. Don’t test to see if it still pops or bothers. Apply a warm washcloth or compress to the sore area while consistently taking ibuprofen for up to 10 days straight to reduce inflammation in the joint. If someone has a severe TMD case, they should consult an oral surgeon for possible reconstruction jaw surgery.


CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: Someone recently told me that breathing through your mouth causes cavities. That can’t be true, can it?

Kara: Saliva is our best defense against cavities, and at night we don’t produce enough of it like we do during the day. When people breathe through their mouth at night, it makes the oral cavity dry, which allows for overgrowth of harmful bacteria.  So yes, technically it does increase the likelihood of developing cavities.

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: Can allergies affect our teeth?

Kara: Allergies can cause a person’s sinuses to act up. Because sinuses are directly above our top teeth roots, sinus pressure can often place additional pressure on the teeth, creating a similar feeling to an abscessed tooth.

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: Why do gums bleed?

Kara: Bleeding gums are a major sign of gingivitis. Our gums should never bleed, and when they do, it is a sign of inflammation and bacteria trapped under our gums. Our bodies try to fight these bacteria by sending blood there, which is the reason they bleed easily.

CAQ to Lincoln hygienistDo we diagnose sleep apnea?

Kara: Not exactly, but sleep apnea happens when we aren’t getting the oxygen our brain needs in the middle of the night. Our airways are cut off and our breathing becomes sporadic. If someone feels tired throughout the day or is constantly waking themselves up at night due to snoring or not being able to breathe, these are possible signs of sleep apnea.

We refer those patients to see sleep specialists at the Bryan Sleep Center

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: Lately coconut oil is a hot topic. How does it help to improve dental health? 

Kara: Coconut oil pulling is becoming popular, especially with the rise in essential oils. Using coconut oil as a rinse in the mouth that helps to get rid of the harmful bacteria in our mouth. By swishing the oil for 10-20 minutes, the bad bacteria attach to the oil and easily removed when spitting out.

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: What is the cost for a dental cleaning at your office? 

Kara: We take most dental insurances and all of them should cover simple dental cleanings at 100 %, virtually making them be a free dental cleaning.

For people without dental insurance, we offer Lincoln Dental Plans, that make dental cleanings free. 

CAQ to Lincoln hygienist: Last but not least, a classic question: How should a person handle sensitive teeth?

Kara: People can have sensitive teeth for many reasons. The best treatment is to use a prescription toothpaste or sensitive toothpaste such as Sensodyne.  It takes at least two weeks for Sensodyne to work, as it protects the dental tubules in our teeth from allowing outside substances to reach the nerve. In extreme sensitive cases, avoid any whitening products, as they can aid in added sensitivity.


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Jake Wilson’s Story

Oral Cancer: Jake Wilson’s Story

Oral cancer has the potential to change the course of your life. For some, however, it’s little more than a roadblock along the journey.

Sitting at a table a few times a week in Lincoln’s Cottonwood Cafe is Jake Wilson. The Cottonwood regular has been through a lot the past few years but has taken it in stride and continued to live abundantly. After noticing some pressure in his mouth, Wilson had scheduled an appointment with Dr. Brad Alderman to see what was going on. The appointment included a routine oral cancer screening. Although Wilson didn’t know it at the time, this simple office visit would drastically change the course of his life.


 oral cancer
Jake Wilson at Cottonwood in Lincoln. Photo by Zachary Visconti.


Three years ago this month, Dr. Brad Alderman discovered a tumor in Wilson’s mouth that would later turn out to be oral cancer. The news would lead to a long process of on and off treatments, a renewed sense of priority, and an even more abundantly-lived life, suitable only for someone like Wilson.

A 62-year-old retired pilot and FAA inspector, Wilson resides in Lincoln with his wife. He is one of the directors of Haiti’s Children’s Hope (HCHO), which provides educational and spiritual support to Haitian communities. Every few months or so, Wilson travels to Haiti to spend time with a community he has helped cultivate. While the news of cancer was devastating, it wouldn’t stop Wilson from serving his communities, both in the US and in Haiti.

International Missions

In his work with HCHO, Wilson has helped provide education to many in the Haitian community of Morne Barbeau near Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. Over the past few years, Wilson has led teams of missionaries who have built a self-sustaining school.

It wasn’t long after founding HCHO that Wilson was diagnosed with oral cancer. While beginning the building project for the school, Wilson wasn’t sure he’d be around to see the finished project.

“You could say I was in pretty bad shape at the time,” says Wilson, recounting a conversating with his friends in Haiti. “I told them ‘I sure hope I’m here [at the end of this project], but I don’t know what’s going to happen.'”

Regardless of the uncertainty of the future, Wilson carried on with the project, and in spite of his chemotherapy and cancer treatment, he’s been able to see the fully-functioning school open. At this time, Wilson has future plans for HCHO, which he hopes to see all the way through.

Oral Cancer Treatment and Living Life Abundantly

During his time in treatment, Wilson developed a slightly unusual relationship with his doctors. During each round of treatment, he worked his way around the specifics for opportunities to travel, say goodbye to old friends, and make his way down to Haiti to work with the community there. At first, his doctors were a little skeptical, though after seeing Wilson’s recovery, they’ve learned to be on board. Wilson says that some of his points of treatment, particularly radiation and chemotherapy, left him in some pretty difficult spots. Despite this, however, Wilson has worked with his doctors to make necessary plans and continue to live a full life.

Now, Wilson’s doctors have said that although he is technically in remission, the disease still exists. He still has some treatment left to go through but has seen both sides of the coin. Wilson also shared that he stops to smell the flowers more often now. He says it’s just a regular part of his days.

Stay in Contact with Your Dentist

There’s a lot to be learned from Jake Wilson’s story about living life and looking forward. It also serves as an important reminder; If you’re feeling discomfort in your mouth, don’t wait to have it checked out. While it isn’t oral cancer in most cases, catching any problems early on is preferable to finding it when it’s too late. Keep up with regular dental cleanings and other treatments, and if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to give us a call! Remember: that simple phone call could be the one that saves your life.


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Smokeless Tobacco, is it Harmless?

cigarette and the risks

Smokeless Tobacco….

If Your Loved Ones are Chewing Tobacco or Vaping, They May Be in Grave Danger

We all know smoking is bad for health. But what about alternatives like chewing tobacco and vaping? When it comes to oral cancer, you should know that your loved ones are equally at risk if they’re chewing or vaping.

The Oral Cancer Foundation says that one person in the US dies every hour from oral cancer. Catching oral cancer early on is a must to prevent progression of the disease.


tobacco raw form lincoln ne

In the last several years, smoking has come under the public eye as a common and detrimental habit to one’s health. Many believe that smokeless tobacco, or chewing tobacco, is a safe alternative to smoking. Smokeless tobacco is still highly correlated with oral cancer, even though it doesn’t lead to lung cancer like smoking.

Sometimes called chew, snuff, dip, or spit tobacco, chewing tobacco is incredibly harmful to a person’s oral and overall health. This habit is costly, and you should re-evaluate it immediately.

April is Oral Cancer Awareness month. At Nebraska Family Dentistry, we value the overall health of our community, which is why we wanted to spotlight the dangers of tobacco in all forms.


The Story of Bill Tuttle

Late Minnesota Twins centerfielder Bill Tuttle was notorious for chewing tobacco throughout his career. Nearly every one of Tuttle’s baseball cards depicts him with a lump of tobacco in his cheek. As a result, Tuttle was diagnosed with oral cancer at age 64.

After being diagnosed, Tuttle underwent several surgeries which sought to remove cancer. After being deconstructed and reconstructed multiple times, Tuttle’s face became severely disfigured, even losing the ability to talk as a result. In the final years of his life, Tuttle dedicated himself to raising awareness about the dangers of oral cancer and its link to chewing tobacco.

Smokeless Tobacco as a Corporate Success

While smoking has caught a lot of criticism for being linked to cancer, chewing tobacco quickly became an alternate marketing success for tobacco companies. When smoking became a taboo, tobacco companies were quick to feed off the negativity. By marketing a tobacco product that was, “safer,” they could still sell a multitude of tobacco products. Ultimately, this allowed tobacco companies to survive through the media’s sharp condemnation of smoking.


The Effects of Chewing Tobacco

In our offices, we see people who chew tobacco quite often. It doesn’t only cause oral cancer either – it also causes gingivitis, receding gums, tooth decay, worn-down teeth, and a handful of other oral issues. It slowly deteriorates the health of a person’s mouth.

Chewing tobacco is also highly addictive, containing much more nicotine than cigarettes. It isn’t hard for new users to find their way into addiction. If your loved ones are just starting out on chewing tobacco, know that it’s never too early to intervene.

smokeless not harmless tobacco lincoln,NE dentist


FAQ About E-Cigarettes or Vaping

1. Is there tobacco involved in vaping?

E-Cigarettes do not have tobacco, but the FDA considers them a tobacco product still.

2. What about nicotine?

Yes. E-Cigarettes contain significant amounts of nicotine. Sometimes they even have more nicotine than traditional cigarettes.

3. Are E-Cigarettes safer than smoking?

Not exactly. Vapes contain a lot of other chemicals that people should not inhale. Many of these chemicals are toxic to our respiratory systems and our overall health. Since they are unregulated by the FDA, companies can also put anything they want in E-Cigarettes and vapor to make them cheaper. They also have a severely negative impact on oral health, in many of the same ways chewing tobacco is harmful.


Concerned About a Loved One Who Smokes, Chews or Vapes?

If you know someone who is smoking, chewing or vaping, it may be time to have a conversation with them about their habit. We understand this can be difficult, so we’ve prepared a short list of tips for going about this.


Smokeless tobacco Lincoln,NE dentist

1. Talk frequently about unrelated matters.

While it’s important to step in and help your loved ones see the dangers in their habit, it’s also necessary to have a good, pre-existing relationship with them. Spend time asking about daily life, and it will be easier to talk to them about serious concerns.

2. Prepare resources before talking to them.

Being able to offer them solution-oriented concern goes a long way. Be prepared to discuss the facts with them, and then direct them to resources that can help them quit. A few quick Google searches will be of great help.

3. Don’t be afraid to be honest.

Tell your loved one how you feel and from a place of loving concern. Let them know your honest concerns, and emphasize how much you care about them.

How Nebraska Family Dentistry Can Help

We value our community and want you to know that your health matters. If you’re having trouble kicking an addiction or being honest with a loved one, give us a call at one of our locations. Our dentists are happy to help talk you through the process. We’re also offering free oral cancer screenings at all of our locations on May 12th, so if you’re concerned, set up your appointment with us today.


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