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Archive for the ‘dentist’ Category

How Exactly Do Cavities Form?

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

dentist 60610Dental decay occurs when bacteria produces acids that permeate the protective outer layer of enamel on teeth through to the next layer called dentin … when the nerve is exposed the patient feels discomfort that can become throbbing pain very quickly. A visit to the dentist right away is needed to treat the decay.

Everyone has bacteria in their mouth that lives on teeth. The sugar and carbs from the foods and beverages we consume add to the bacteria. Brushing and flossing can help to remove some of the bacteria, but if not eliminated before it can harden, it becomes plaque.

Plaque buildup contributes to cavity formation and can even escalate into gum disease. There are ways to help control plaque. Some of them are natural like saliva (sometimes called nature’s mouthwash) that helps to flush the mouth. When brushing is not practical, finishing off a meal or snack with a piece of sugar free candy or chewing sugar free gum will help to produce saliva for a natural rinse.

Cavity prevention is doable. There are many decay prevention tools available, but it’s reliant on the patient to do their part. Preventative measures include:

  • Twice daily brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste or gel.
  • Flossing every day to remove what your toothbrush missed.
  • Visiting your dentist every six months for cleaning to remove plaque buildup; and an exam to repair any dental problems that may be present.

Your dentist also offers fluoride treatments to strengthen dental enamel; and for teeth that have never been impacted by decay, sealants can be applied to chewing surfaces where decay often gets its start. Dental sealants are perfect for children, but can benefit adults as well; but this is a preventative option … once a cavity occurs, sealants for a treated tooth are no longer a useful tool.

Dental decay isn’t just inconvenient. Cavities can weaken the tooth’s structure. This can result in a broken tooth that will require additional treatment such as a crown. Or if infection occurs, root canal therapy may be needed to save the tooth.

Other ways to help prevent tooth decay are by watching what you eat and drink (sugary snacks and beverages should be limited); don’t use tobacco in any form; make sure you develop and stick to a daily oral health care regimen; and see your dentist every six months.

Ready to schedule a checkup or cleaning? Contact our team today!

Gum Disease: Not a Normal Part of Aging

Monday, April 24th, 2017

dentist 60611As patients get older, they may think that gum disease and subsequent tooth loss is an inevitable part of aging. However, that is not the case. While your risk of developing gum disease may increase as you get older, there are still steps that you can take to prevent this potentially devastating oral disease.

A solid home oral hygiene routine and regular routine preventive care from your dentist are the two primary pillars of gum disease prevention efforts, just as they are in younger patients. Your day-to-day oral hygiene habits help to keep the presence of oral bacteria in check, and additional professional care, such as cleanings from a dental hygienist, will eliminate any plaque and tartar that build up despite your regimen of brushing twice each day and flossing daily.

Furthermore, when a dentist is monitoring your teeth and gums at regular, relatively brief intervals, it’s easier to catch oral diseases in their earliest stages, when they are most likely to respond well to non-invasive treatment. For example, early stage gum disease (known as gingivitis) usually can be addressed with a thorough professional dental cleaning. However, advanced periodontitis may require gum surgery or even tooth replacement if the bone is compromised as well as the gums.

Many patients are keeping their biological teeth well into their 80s and 90s and beyond, and with proper care, there’s no reason you can’t join them. Just check with your dentist to make sure that you’re doing everything possible to protect your oral health as you age.

If you think that you don’t need to maintain a thorough oral hygiene regimen and see your dentist twice each year just because you’re over 60, think again. Gum disease and tooth loss are pathological process at any age. Make sure that you continue to follow up with your routine care every six months and continue to brush and floss as directed.

Contact our office to schedule an appointment if you need to get back on track with your oral health care.

4 Important Steps to Keep Your Teeth Healthy

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

dentist 60603Keeping your smile healthy and beautiful rewards you in multiple ways, both psychologically and physically. There are two main things that you need to prioritize in order to keep your teeth and gums in top-notch shape: performing a robust oral hygiene routine each day and seeing your dentist at least twice a year for routine check-ups and professional cleanings.

Your day-to-day oral hygiene regimen is the backbone of promoting your oral health. You should be brushing twice a day, for two minutes each session. The technique you use is also important. Be sure to pay close attention to the gumline as you brush, holding the brush at a 45-degree angle in order to most effectively remove plaque buildup in that area. Don’t brush too aggressively, as doing so can wear down your teeth and contribute to gum recession. You may want to consider using an electronic toothbrush with a built-in timer to give an extra boost to your routine. You should also be flossing daily in order to dislodge plaque and bacteria from the surfaces where teeth meet, which are hard to reach with your toothbrush alone.

Even if you are incredibly conscientious about your brushing and flossing maintenance, you still need to see your dentist for professional care at least every six months. When a hygienist cleans your teeth, he or she will have a better angle on some areas of your smile that are challenging for you to clean thoroughly. Additionally, the dentist can identify problems in their earliest stages if you have exams twice a year rather than at longer intervals.

In addition to the basics of home and professional dental care, a nutritious diet can go a long way to keeping your smile in good shape. A wide variety of nutrients is needed to protect the oral tissues, just as the rest of the body needs vitamins, minerals and other sources of nutrition from fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources and dairy.

Another step that you can take to protect your smile is to quit smoking if you are a smoker. This habit may contribute to inflammation in your gum tissue (not to mention leaving a tell-tale yellow trace on your teeth). You’ll gain numerous health benefits when you give us your cigarettes.

Want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to preserve a healthy, attractive smile? Call our office to speak to one of our knowledgeable professionals for answers to your oral health questions.


A Parent’s Guide to Infant and Toddler Dental Care

Monday, March 27th, 2017

dentist 60601As a parent, you likely recognize that the foundation for your child’s healthy smile is developed at a rather early age. However, you may have some questions about appropriate dental care for your child, both from professionals and at home. When should you begin brushing your child’s teeth? When should your child first see a dentist? Here is a list of tips that answer some of those questions to help you properly care for your child’s smile.

  • Children should have their first check-up with a dentist by their first birthday: The first few teeth have usually erupted within the first year of your child’s life, so this is a good time to get a professional exam to make sure that there are no dental developmental problems. Not only does establishing an early relationship with a dentist normalize this experience for your child, it also may save you money. According to a CDC report, costs for children who see a dentist by age 5 are nearly 40 percent lower than for those who don’t.
  • You can gently clean a baby’s gums using a damp washcloth after feedings and before bed. You may also want to do this in the morning. When the first teeth erupt, switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush. Use a tiny amount of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) until the child turns three, when you can increase to a pea-sized dollop. Make sure that you perform an oral hygiene routine daily with your child to get them habituated to that task.
  • Be cautious with what, when and how your child drinks. Putting your baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice can give sugar an opportunity to hang around the mouth and fuel bacteria as your baby sleeps. You should also limit your child’s use of sippy cups for the same reason.
  • Parents should remove a child’s pacifier by age 2 or 3. Extended pacifier use can create orthodontic problems and even change the shape of the mouth.

Do you have other questions or concerns about making sure that your child’s smile stays healthy? Contact our office to speak to one of our knowledgeable professionals.

Why Oral Health Symptoms Shouldn’t Be Ignored

Monday, March 6th, 2017

dentist 60610You may think that mild symptoms such as slight tooth discomfort or light bleeding while brushing or flossing don’t warrant a trip to the dentist, but if you ignore such oral health symptoms, you may be doing so at your peril. Oral diseases, such as tooth decay and gum disease, can have significant consequences for both your smile and your general well-being.

First of all, if you consult with your dentist as soon as you notice a signal that something is amiss with your smile, the treatment for the issue is likely to be less invasive and more effective. For example, a small cavity can be restored with a dental filling, while extensive decay may warrant a crown or even put the tooth in jeopardy for extraction. Similarly, early stage gum disease often responds well to a thorough professional cleaning, while more advanced stages may require gum surgery, or if tooth loss has occurred, dental implant placement.

If you do delay seeing your dentist until more severe symptoms develop, you may increase your risk of tooth extraction. The cascade of outcomes following that type of procedure include impaired nutrition and jawbone atrophy, which can have wide-ranging effects on your appearance and your health.

It’s important to consider the implications of your oral health for your systemic health, as well. Gum disease doesn’t merely contribute to an unattractive smile. Research has suggested some sort of connection between gum disease and other conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as pregnancy complications. So, attending to early stage symptoms of oral diseases in a timely fashion may help you to limit the effects of those systemic issues as well.

Additionally, if you schedule exams and cleanings every six months as recommended, we will have additional opportunities to address mild oral health symptoms when they arise. So, don’t slack on this essential element of your dental care.

Even if you’re experiencing mild symptoms of oral health problems, we encourage you to call our office so that you can see what types of treatment options might be recommended and schedule an appointment if necessary. Don’t postpone treatment, or your smile (and your body) may pay a high price.

What causes a tooth to become impacted?

Friday, February 24th, 2017

dentist ChicagoA tooth is impacted when it fails to erupt through gum tissue completely or correctly. Insufficient jaw space is very often the culprit, and the likely teeth to become impacted are third molars (more commonly referred to as wisdom teeth). Your dentist will monitor concerns with impacted teeth (one of the advantages of seeing your dentist every six months) to help determine the best course of action to minimize problems going forward.

What problems can occur because of an impacted tooth? For many patients, there are no difficulties, but some of the situations that can arise are:

  • Abscess – This is an infection of the impacted tooth where a pus pocket forms – it can be very painful and requires treatment with antibiotics.
  • Malocclusion – Impacted teeth might result in teeth being shifted creating a malocclusion (a condition where top teeth do not properly align with bottom teeth); teeth being pushed together can result in crooked teeth, an over bite, or an under bite.
  • Plaque build-up – Crooked teeth provide areas where plaque forms; plaque that builds on teeth can lead to dental decay and/or gum disease.

When teeth cannot erupt properly, they can twist around in the gums moving to wherever they can find room. They may grow into the roof of the mouth or try to erupt sideways. When there is concern that one or more teeth are impacted, dental x-rays will identify the problem and the decision for treatment can be discussed.

Impacted teeth that are not presenting any problems for the patient can remain; however, many patients will be better served with having impacted teeth extracted to prevent future difficulties.

With impacted wisdom teeth, your family dentist may recommend having them all removed at one time … very often at the hand of an oral surgeon. Wisdom teeth generally do not erupt until late teens or early twenties, and if they are to be extracted, the earlier this is performed is usually better.

Recovering from impacted teeth extraction is different for everyone. Usually the patient is advised to go home to rest for the balance of the day to help control bleeding. Depending on the severity of the extraction, over the counter analgesics may be sufficient to control discomfort. Eating soft foods for a few days is recommended.

Impacted teeth affect everyone differently so your dentist is your best guide for successful treatment. If you’re considering a tooth extraction, contact us at Ora Dental Studio today!

Tooth Trauma Doesn’t Have to Mean Tooth Loss

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

dentist Chicago 60614A trip and fall, automobile accident, or any kind of mouth trauma can injure teeth. When the nerve is impacted, there are steps to be taken to save the tooth. Your dentist should be consulted to determine the extent of the injury, usually utilizing an examination and x-ray.

If a tooth’s nerve has been impacted, the patient might be experiencing different symptoms. Discomfort when biting down, tooth discoloration, or sensitivity to temperature are a few of the signs the tooth’s root and nerve have been injured.

The standard treatment at this point is endodontic therapy. Your dentist may be able to perform a root canal; depending on which tooth is involved you may be referred to a specialist to complete this part of treatment.

A root canal is a procedure where the contents of each of the tooth’s roots are removed. The process is quite simple … a dental x-ray is taken to determine how many roots are involved and their precise angle for best access.

The tooth is segregated to keep the area dry often through the use of a rubber dam. An access point is drilled into the tooth. Endodontic files are used via the access point and they literally remove the nerve, pulp, blood, and infection (if present).

The area has usually been anesthetized so the patient might feel a little pressure, but there is minimal (if any) discomfort. As the contents of the roots are removed, they are being suctioned away by the dental assistant. The rubber dam is additional protection to prevent root contents from being swallowed.

Once all roots have been cleared of contents, if the tooth was infected, the dentist might treat the area with an antibiotic; additional oral antibiotics may be administered if needed.

At this point, your dentist might opt to put a temporary covering over the access point to make sure the root canal was successful in treating the tooth. But eventually a permanent seal must be placed to cover the access point.

This final step (the seal) is often completed with a dental crown. The tooth is reduced, an impression is taken, and a crown is fabricated. When ready, the crown will be cemented in place and treatment is complete.

Your tooth has been saved and the likelihood of additional problems is very small thanks to root canal therapy.

To discuss your own treatment options, contact our office at Ora Dental Studio today!

Brushing Up On Dental Hygiene Basics

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

dentist 60616Maintaining great oral health produces a winning smile as well as contributing to good overall health. Your dentist can provide a list of things we should do to keep our dental health as good as possible including:

Brushing – We need to brush at least twice every day with a fluoridated tooth paste. Each brushing session should last two minutes – an electronic tooth brush offers many advantages from rapid action to remove bacteria and food debris to a timer that signals when we’ve brushed the recommended two minutes.

Flossing – There are many different types of floss assuring you will find one that works best for you … flavored, waxed, tape, or floss picks … use floss at least once every day to help keep plaque build-up limited and gum tissue stimulated.

Dental visits – Every six months we should see the dentist for a thorough cleaning, polishing and exam. Teeth will look their best, but more importantly plaque is removed that can lead to decay and/or gum disease.

These are the actions we should observe, but there are many other factors to consider such as:

Diet – Limiting sugary snacks and beverages is important. The list of healthy foods we are encouraged to consume include fresh fruits and vegetables; protein from lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, and nuts; dairy products like milk, cheese, eggs, and yogurt (just be aware of sugar content); and healthy snacks like popcorn, sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds, or unsweetened cereal.

Tobacco use – There are no benefits achieved from smoking or any type of tobacco use. Patients that use tobacco are more likely to develop gum disease and suffer from premature tooth loss.

Hydration – Water is the ultimate beverage to stay hydrated; soft drinks, juices, carbonated and sweetened beverages are very hard on teeth – if you are going to consume them, use a straw so as much of the harmful beverage can bypass teeth as possible.

Sleep – The amount of sleep you need every night may differ from others; but lack of sufficient rest can contribute to oral health problems.

Tooth loss – Losing your baby teeth is normal; however, losing permanent teeth requires some type of action to allow you to speak clearly, chew normally, and smile with self-confidence (difficult to do if tooth loss has occurred).

Good oral health is important so follow the recommended guidelines provided by your dentist. Call to schedule an appointment with our professionals today!

Food Friends and Foes For Your Teeth

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

dentist 60654It turns out that the best foods for your teeth are going to be wonderful for overall health as well. Of course, diet alone will not dictate dental health results. Brushing, flossing, and seeing the dentist every six months for cleaning and exam coupled with a healthy diet will help lead to great oral health.

The best foods for teeth include fresh fruits and vegetables, as they are loaded with vitamins and nutrients that promote healthy teeth and gums. Their high water content helps to dilute the natural sugars they may contain.

Proteins are good too, and are great sources of protein include meat, fish, and poultry as well as beans and nuts.

Dairy products are a great choice, and there are so many wonderful varieties and ways to consume dairy like milk, cheese, eggs, and yogurt. You need to be mindful of high sugar content in treats like ice cream, pudding, and many dairy based desserts.

You can consume many of these foods during meals or as snacks; other ideas for healthy snacking would include popcorn, unsweetened cereal, pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds. Chewing sugar free gum between meals increases saliva flow, a natural way to reduce the acids on teeth that can result in dental decay.

The list of healthy foods is long, but the things you need to limit or avoid is a lengthy list as well. Products that are processed like chips; crackers; baked goods like cakes, pies and cookies – all are loaded with sugar … the natural bacteria on teeth feed on these sugars clinging to teeth to form plaque. When plaque builds on teeth, decay or disease are more likely to occur.

Candy is another culprit, but there are some that are worse than others. Avoid treats that are gummy that will stick to teeth; hard candy that can break teeth; or candy like a lollipop that you will suck on for several minutes.

Liquid treats to avoid include soda, sweet drinks like lemonade, juice, or sweetened tea, and carbonated beverages. If you are going to consume these drinks, use a straw to allow as much as possible to bypass dentition. Drinking water, unsweetened coffee or tea, or low-fat milk are much better choices.

Daily brushing and flossing, a healthy diet, and twice yearly visits to the dentist all work to promote great dental health. If you’re overdue for your dental cleaning, contact our office today!

Bruxism and TMJ Disorder: What is the difference?

Monday, December 26th, 2016

dentist 60601Bruxism is a condition that results from teeth grinding and clenching. It usually starts subconsciously during periods of sleep to patients suffering from anxiety, but it can also be the result of a dental malocclusion where the upper teeth are not properly aligned with bottom teeth. Your dentist can immediately spot patients suffering from bruxism.

Very often your dentist will attempt to help the patient by adjusting the bite; another solution is to fabricate a night guard for the patient to wear at night that will help to prevent teeth grinding.

TMJ disorder is often linked to bruxism, but there is a difference. TMJ is an abbreviation for temporomandibular joint. And TMJ disorder is a widely used term that pretty much describes the pain and dysfunction of the muscles that allow the jaw to move for speaking, chewing, yawning … most any time you move your mouth, this jaw joint is impacted.

Unlike bruxism, which is an act attributed to teeth grinding and jaw clenching, TMJ disorder is usually the result of genetics, a facial injury, or an underlying condition like arthritis. Symptoms of bruxism and TMJ can be similar, but unlike bruxism, TJM is much more difficult to diagnose.

Symptoms can include discomfort, earache, chewing difficulties, a clicking sound when you chew or open your mouth wide, or the jaw can actually become locked in place.

Treatment for TMJ disorder usually starts with an over the counter pain medication. Your dentist might recommend moist heat. Cold packs can reduce inflammation. Your diet could be contributing to your discomfort. You might try softer foods and avoid crunchy or chewy foods to give your jaw as much rest as possible. If symptoms continue, there are more extensive treatments available.

A night guard may be recommended when it is suspected the patient is dealing with TMJ disorder. As in the case of bruxism, nightly teeth grinding and jaw clenching can exacerbate the symptoms of TMJ disorder.

However, it is critical that the patient receive a custom fitted night guard. A generic, one size fits all model is not a viable solution. If the night guard is uncomfortable or ill fitting, the patient will not wear it. Invest in a custom fitted unit designed for your particular needs.

Your dentist wants to bring you relief so follow suggestions and guidelines provided. Call us today for more information about either of these topics!