Indianola Family Dentristy Logo

Call Today    515-961-0534

2000 North 4th Street, Indianola, Iowa 50125   Geo Button

Our Services

Routine Cleanings

Why Are Routine Teeth Cleanings So Important?

The American Dental Association recommends that you visit your dentist at least once a year to get a routine examination and teeth cleaning. However, how many of us can honestly say that we practice perfect oral hygiene every day all year round? It’s never a bad idea to pop into the dentist’s for a quick examination and teeth cleaning just to make sure things are looking good! Just like you need to get routine oil changes to keep your car running healthy or scrub your bathtub on a regular schedule to prevent soap scum build-up it’s so important that you have routine teeth cleanings with your dentist.

Teeth cleaning, also known as prophylaxis, helps remove the tartar and plaque that develops in everyone’s mouth over time, even with “perfect” oral hygiene. Even those who are afraid of the dentist have little to fear from a teeth cleaning! It’s rarely painful (although if you have an excessive amount of plaque built up your cleaning might require a little extra scraping to remove it all) and you shouldn’t require any kind of pain medication. You’ll have more to fear if you don’t come in for a regular cleaning and it’s been two years between appointments! Just about every American adult suffers from some form of mild gum disease and just like any other medical issue early detection is key! Routine teeth cleanings mean bacteria don’t get to run around unchecked in your mouth and early signs of gum disease will be noticed and treated. If left untreated gum disease will slowly but surely wreck havoc on your mouth and when you do finally find yourself back in the dentist’s office much more serious procedures may be required to repair the damage.

The longer you go between cleanings the longer bacteria has to build up in your mouth, which can irritate your gums and make them extra sensitive during regular brushing and flossing, as well as more prone to bleeding. Because your gums are extra sensitive when you do finally come in for a cleaning you may experience more discomfort than usual when your hygienist switches from the ultrasonic cleaner to hand tools called periodontal scalers and curettes, which are used to gently scrape any remaining tartar off. If your gums are super sensitive, your dental hygienist may apply a topical analgesic so that you won’t feel as much pain.

At Indianola Family Dentistry we often recommend that our patients come back every 4-6 months for another cleaning and examination, although that time frame can vary from patient to patient. For instance, some people just build up more plaque than others (blame your genetics) and they might require more frequent cleanings to help prevent gum disease. The cost of teeth cleanings will vary based on your insurance but don’t let cost keep you from coming in more than once a year if need be! The longer you wait the more time bacteria has to damage your smile permanently. And the cost of an extra teeth cleaning or two pales in comparison to some major dental procedures.

Periodontal Disease-Deep Cleaning

  • Healthy Gums – healthy gums are firm and don’t bleed. They fit snugly around the teeth.
  • Gingivitis – gums are mildly inflamed, may appear red or swollen and may bleed during brushing.
  • Periodontitis – gums begin to separate and recede from the teeth. This allows plaque to move toward the roots, supporting fibers and bone.
  • Advanced Periodontitis – supporting fibers and bone are destroyed. Teeth become loose and may need to be removed.

There are three stages of gum disease:

  1. Gingivitis – this is the earliest stage of gum disease, an inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup at the gumline. If daily brushing and flossing do not remove the plaque, it produces toxins (poisons) that can irritate the gum tissue, causing gingivitis. You may notice some bleeding during brushing and flossing. At this early stage in gum disease, damage can be reversed, since the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place are not yet affected.
  2. Periodontitis – at this stage, the supporting bone and fibers that hold your teeth in place are irreversibly damaged. Your gums may begin to form a pocket below the gumline, which traps food and plaque. Proper dental treatment and improved home care can usually help prevent further damage.
  3. Advanced Periodontitis – in this final stage of gum disease, the fibers and bone supporting your teeth are destroyed, which can cause your teeth to shift or loosen. This can affect your bite and, if aggressive treatment can’t save them, teeth may need to be removed.

How do I Know if I Have Gum Disease?

Gum disease can occur at any age, but it is most common among adults. If detected in its early stages, gum disease can be reversed so see your dentist if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Gums that are red, puffy or swollen, or tender
  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
  • Teeth that look longer because your gums have receded
  • Gums that have separated, or pulled away, from your teeth, creating a pocket
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Pus coming from between your teeth and gums
  • Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth

How is Gum Disease Treated? 

The early stages of gum disease can often be reversed with proper brushing and flossing. Good oral health will help keep plaque from building up.

A professional cleaning by your dentist or hygienist is the only way to remove plaque that has built up and hardened into tartar. Your dentist or hygienist will clean or “scale” your teeth to remove the tartar above and below the gumline. If your condition is more severe, a root planing procedure may be performed. Root planing helps to smooth irregularities on the roots of the teeth making it more difficult for plaque to deposit there.

By scheduling regular checkups, early stage gum disease can be treated before it leads to a much more serious condition. If your condition is more advanced, treatment in the dental office will be required.

Root Planing

There is some confusion about the difference between scaling and root planing. Scaling is basically the process of removing dental tartar from the surfaces of the teeth (see dental cleanings). Root planing is the process of smoothening the root surfaces and removing any infected tooth structure. If you have gum disease or gum pocketing, the gum pockets around the teeth will have deepened, thereby allowing tartar deposits to form under the gumline.

The two processes tend to blur together since during the cleaning process, the dental worker scales away tartar and performs any necessary root planing at the same time. Any roughness can be planed away to result in a silky smooth surface.

Does it hurt?

Depending on the depth of the pocket and severity of the root surface irregularity, the dentist may wish to make the area numb so that the process is comfortable for you. Don’t hesitate to discuss with your dentist or hygienist how to best manage any discomfort.

Sometimes if the pockets are not too deep, there may be little or no discomfort during the procedure – even without numbing. The only sensation may be the physical scraping feeling along the teeth as the area is cleaned and smoothened. A root planed root surface free of tartar has a better chance of allowing the gum tissues to heal and reattach to it. As a result, some deep gum pockets can be reduced after a deep cleaning.

How long does it take?

Typically with deeper pockets and extensive rough root surfaces, the deep scaling and root planing procedure might be broken down into quadrants of work per appointment. For example, the upper right side of the mouth might be worked on one day, and the three other parts worked on at separate appointments. Or alternatively, one half of the mouth (right or left, upper or lower) might be cleaned per appointment. This also allows for only a part of the mouth being frozen at a time and makes for more manageable, shorter appointments.

The dentist may use antibiotic gels within the periodontal pocket, again to remove any nasty bugs, or may rinse out the pocket with various medications such as chlorhexidine.

What can I expect afterwards?

  • Discomfort can vary after root planing, but one can expect it to be more sore afterwards since it’s usually in a deeper region under the gums.
  • The teeth themselves can become a bit more sensitive to temperature, and bleeding might occur for a little while.
  • Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen work very well to alleviate discomfort, but stronger painkillers can be given should you need them.
  • Brushing and flossing can be delayed or done more gently to avoid aggravating any bruised or tender gum areas.
  • Your dentist or hygienist may recommend salt water or chlorhexidine rinses.


This is a focused beam of X-Ray particles through bone which produces an image on special film, showing the structure through which it passed. This gives the familiar black and white images that doctors and dentists use to diagnose problems. X-rays are a necessary part of the diagnostic process, and not to use them could lead to undiagnosed disease. Without an X-ray of the whole tooth, and supporting bone and gum tissues, there is no real way to detect infection or pathology that requires attention.

In our office we use digital radiography which allows us to take X-rays using 50-70% less radiation versus conventional X-rays. Coupled with computer monitorying, digital x-ray technology allows us to enhance the images for better diagnosis of any dental concerns.


This is used to fill in narrow grooves in a tooth that cannot be adequately cleaned by brushing. In some cases, the tooth structure has fine grooves or pits which accumulate plaque, not because the person doesn’t brush, but because they’re too narrow to allow even one bristle into them. These will develop cavities over time, and you don’t want that. So the dentist will brush on a coating that seals the grooves and pits, making it possible to brush off all the plaque and keep your teeth healthy.

Night Guard-NTI

An NTI- night guard is another option for people suffering from teeth grinding. Unlike an occlusal (night) guard, an NTI night guard covers only part of your mouth, clipping over either the top or bottom front teeth. The small plastic device forms a barrier between your top and bottom teeth, preventing you from biting down completely.

NTI night guards are not available over the counter, and have to be custom fitted by your dentist.

Who Might Benefit From an NTI- Device?

NTI night guards were approved by the FDA in the 1990s and have gained in popularity in recent years. You might consider an NTI night guard if one or more of the following applies to you

  • Conventional occlusal guards have not worked for you
  • You suffer from migraine headaches due to bruxism
  • You clench during the day (you can get a daytime version of the NTI- that is much less intrusive and noticeable than an occlusal guard)

Pediatric Dentistry

Here at Indianola Family Dentistry, we believe good oral health is an important part of total health! We are dedicated to improving the oral health of your child. Our goal is to provide thorough and high quality care while promoting a positive attitude towards dentistry. We want your child’s visit to be a pleasant and unique experience.

Getting an early start with regular dental care is an important step on the road to teaching your child healthy, lifelong habits. We suggest that the initial dental visit occur by your child’s first birthday. Regular check-ups enable us to promote proper oral hygiene, and diagnose oral abnormalities and disease. With early intervention, dental problems are often easily treated.


White Fillings & Silver Fillings 

Fillings are done to remove decay, and replace the affected tooth structure. It is called a filling because new a material fills hole that decay left. Now days most teeth are treated with bonded tooth colored composite resin fillings. (White fillings) We also do amalgam fillings. Please check with your insurance on coverage between the different fillings. Caught early enough, cavities can be treated easily and painlessly. If not treated decay can lead to tooth pain and/or infection, and the tooth would need root canal treatment or extraction.


Bonding involves adhering composite resin material that is matched to the color of the tooth, to the front of the tooth. This is done to repair damage done to the tooth by decay, to alter the alignment of the tooth, close gaps between the teeth, or for cosmetic purposes. First the surface of the tooth is roughened in order to accept the bonding and hold it. A gel is applied to micro etch the tooth surface, and a primer/bond agent is applied so the material adheres to the surface. Then the material itself is placed on the tooth and hardened with intense light. The composite resin material is shaped and polished to get a lustrous finish as a last step.


Crowns are full coverage restorations that are used to cover a tooth that is likely to break, or is too broken down to be restored with a filling. They are most commonly done after root canal treatment, or when a large filling wears out. The larger the hole made by a cavity that has to be treated, the more likely a crown will be needed. Even after a filling is put in a large cavity, a tooth is more likely to break. Keep in mind that the jaw muscles are the strongest in the human body. Teeth are subjected to tremendous pressures. Crowns ride over the weakened tooth, providing strength and protecting the tooth against breakage. A broken or cracked tooth is a far more serious matter and much more difficult to treat. Crowns prevent this, as well as making for a nice smile.

Root Canals

Root canal treatment (also referred to as root canal therapy or endodontic therapy) is made necessary when a cavity is allowed, through neglect, to reach all the way to this pulp. (Regular cleanings and checkups prevent and detect problems early) Sometimes deep restorations or trauma to a tooth may cause the nerve to be damaged to the point it needs root canal therapy, also. Once this occurs the pulp becomes infected, and can even extend through the root tip and begin to eat away at the surrounding bone (this is an abscess). By the time the pulp is infected it must be treated, and cannot heal on its own. It can even weaken the entire immune system. This is dangerous, not to mention very painful. Symptoms that the pulp has become infected may include sensitivity to hot/cold or sweets, pain, swelling, pain to biting or pressure, and a bad taste in the mouth. Sometimes, however, no symptoms are apparent and the person is unaware of any problem until a checkup.

A root canal is then performed to clean out the infected tooth pulp, and disinfect the canals of the tooth. The only other treatment would be to extract the tooth. Once the infection is resolved, the canal(s) are filled in to prevent any further infection. Usually a core build-up and crown is recommended for restoring a tooth that has had root canal therapy


This is an option for filling the space created by a missing tooth. It is formed to look like the missing tooth, and it takes its place in the mouth. The sides of a bridge use the two surrounding teeth for support, hence the name. A bridge replaces the missing tooth, both functionally and cosmetically. Bridge work is as much an art as it is an exact science. The materials used may be gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloy, or all ceramic material. The choice of material depends on requirements for strength, wear, and/or esthetics.

It is important that a missing tooth be replaced as soon as possible for several reasons. If not treated the teeth surrounding the gap begin to shift inward, creating a whole chain reaction of bad things. Teeth use their neighbors for support, and, with one missing, they start to “fall.” As this worsens, the bite changes in response to the pressure. This can eventually result in problems with the entire jaw, e.g. TMJ. The surrounding teeth deteriorate and it is just a matter of time before they  too, are lost. Gum disease becomes a serious problem, with the difficulty of treatment increasing as the neglect continues.


Veneers are a dental procedure in which a covering is placed over the outside (visible area) of the tooth. Veneers are usually only done to the part of the teeth that are visible when talking or smiling. The procedure can be direct or indirect.

The direct technique usually involves placing composite resin on the outside of the tooth using bonding. This method is usually referred to as bonding.

The indirect technique usually involves two appointments because the veneers will be fabricated at a dental laboratory. At the first appointment the teeth are prepared, impressions taken, and the teeth are given a temporary covering. In two to three weeks the veneers are back from the laboratory, the temporaries are removed and the veneers are bonded to the teeth. The laboratory fabricated veneers are usually made using porcelain or pressed ceramic, and are very esthetic.

The advantage of veneers versus crowns is that much less tooth material is removed, and the procedure is generally less uncomfortable. Veneers are recommended for teeth that have large fillings or little tooth structure.

Dental Implants

A dental implant is an option to replace a missing tooth. In this procedure, a small titanium shaft is surgically implanted into the bone and allowed to set. The bone grows around it forming a tight connection, which additionally slows or stops the bone loss that occurs when the root of a natural tooth is missing. Once the implant is firmly set in the mouth, the dentist then works to attach the replacement tooth onto the top of the shaft. This permanent solution has the advantages over bridge work that it does not stress the surrounding teeth for support, and, should the tooth wear out, another can simply be replaced on the shaft.

Implants can also be used as support as part of an implant bridge. This is an alternative to partial dentures, and has several advantages. First, there is no adjustment period to acclimatize the patient who, once the work is done, only feels teeth, not metal supports intruding into the mouth. Second, this slows the bone loss occasioned by missing teeth. Third, there is no discomfort or difficulty in eating. And, best of all, of course, they don’t have to be taken out all the time.

We also offer mini dental implants. These implants are about half the diameter of traditional implants are used mainly to stabilize lower dentures. These implants can be placed in one appointment and be immediately used. The cost is 50-70% of standard dental implants.


We do our best to attempt to save a tooth but in some situations removal of the tooth, including the roots, may be necessary to eliminate a patient’s pain or discomfort.  Replacement options can then be discussed to restore your mouth to optimal esthetics and function.


Treswhite Strips– Opalescence Treswhite Supreme 15% MINT
Pre-loaded Hydrogene Peroxide Whitening Trays (10 upper and 10 lower)

  • PF formula strengthens enamel, decreases sensitivity, prevents caries
  • Professional strength at an affordable price
  • No impressions, no models, no lab time
  • Sleek and comfortable; adapts to any smile
  • Discreet, clear tray material
  • 15% – wear 15–20 minutes, for 5–10 days
  • Opalescence Trèswhite Supreme is a perfect follow-up to in-office whitening

Bleaching Trays– The most common in-office whitening procedure involves custom-made trays. Because your dentist supervises the procedure, a stronger bleaching solution can be used than what’s found in home kits. Office-made custom trays are fabricated specifically for your teeth. They will work faster and safer, without damaging your teeth or gums. There is another advantage to bleaching trays that are custom made by your dentist, and that is that they last indefinitely. They may cost more up front, but are less expensive to use over time – whitening strips aren’t cheap. Whitening is changing, however. Newer, stronger, and safer gels are now available that will whiten teeth in less time (no more bleaching trays all night long). In addition, better de-sensitizing agents are being incorporated, making the process more comfortable. Also you can buy addition Gel anytime here at our office.

For more information, please call 515-961-0534.