Vaping and Oral Health

e-cigVaping seems to be almost everywhere nowadays — on TV commercials, print advertisements, and radio spots. Sometimes the ads even claim that vaping is a healthier, safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. But how much of that is true? At our dental office in Wicker Park, we looked into vaping and just how ‘safe’ this safer alternative is. Let’s see what we found. 

Whole Body Concerns

Vapes, or e-cigarettes, have been in the U.S. since 2007, but their popularity seems to have increased rapidly over the past few years. Because of this dramatic surge in popularity, science and research regarding these devices is a little behind. But recent studies show us that maybe vaping isn’t as safe as we may have thought. Vaping may be linked to an increased risk of pneumonia, rapid heart rate, congestive heart failure, and stroke. So while we may have once believed vaping was a safer alternative to smoking, that simply may not be the case. 

Oral Health Concerns

More research on how vaping affects oral health is needed, but more and more studies continue to find that there are certain risks involved, including: 

Dry Mouth 

Many vape liquids include the ingredient propylene glycol, which is known to cause dry mouth. Dry mouth, if not treated, can greatly increase the risk of decay, cavities, and gum disease. Not to mention, dry mouth can also cause some serious chronic bad breath, which can be a challenge to overcome. 

Inflamed Gums

A 2016 research study found a potential link between vaping and gum disease. To be more specific, vape juice caused an inflammatory response in the gum tissue that can put you at risk for gum disease. 

Cell Damage

Vaping may also destroy cells’ DNA and inhibit their ability to divide a grow. Basically, vaping can kill cells and cause bad breath, bone loss, tooth loss, and gum disease. 

Focus on Quitting

Even though some people may have started vaping to help them quit smoking, there’s conflicting research regarding its effectiveness.  For example, one study found that e-cigarettes helped current smokers reduce the number of cigarettes they smoked by about half, while another suggested that smokers who use e-cigs are 59% less likely to quit. Instead of trading one habit for another, try to focus on proven ways to break away from nicotine once and for all. Consider:  

  • Work on limiting the number of cigarettes you smoke a day, and decrease over time. 
  • Try quitting without the use of nicotine replacements — fair warning, this can be extremely difficult.
  • Find different ways people have quit. You never know what may work for you. The American Lung Association is a great resource for smokers who want to quit. 

Finding what works for you may take time, but don’t give up. Quitting greatly reduces your risk of health problems caused by smoking and vaping.

If you are a smoker or use e-cigarettes, make sure you always see your dentist in Wicker Park every six months to keep a proactive eye on your oral health and so that any problems such as oral cancer or gum disease can be caught early.   

Oral Health for Seniors

seniors take selfieAugust 21st is Senior Citizens Day, and there’s no better way for our dental office in Wicker Park to celebrate than by sharing some oral health information for the favorite senior citizens we have in our lives and their families.  

The truth is, our oral health needs will vary as we celebrate more birthdays, and needs will also differ from person to person. That’s one reason we believe in treating each person with individualized, custom care. When it comes to the senior population, there are a few unique things to be aware of. 

  • Discolored Teeth – While anyone can experience discolored teeth, there’s usually an explanation. Maybe morning coffee is to blame, or perhaps smoking or red wine. But when it comes to seniors, discoloration may occur without any obvious explanation. Most commonly, tooth discoloration as we age is a typical sign that the white outer layer of our teeth (enamel) is wearing away and becoming thinner. When this happens, your teeth can become a little transparent and the inner workings of the tooth become more visible. As it turns out, the insides of teeth are not as white as the outsides, and the more we’re able to see them, the more dark or yellow teeth can appear. 
  • Dry Mouth – Dry mouth is another condition that can happen to anyone, but it does tend to be more common in seniors. Many times, medication is to blame. There are tons of over-the-counter medications and prescription medications that list dry mouth as a side effect. When these medications are taken regularly, saliva production slows down and the mouth becomes dry… and there is nothing bacteria like better than a dry mouth. Without saliva on hand to rinse away bacteria and neutralize acid, teeth are at an increased risk for developing cavities. If these cavities aren’t treated, they could lead to the need for a root canal, cause tooth sensitivity, or even tooth loss. If you’re experiencing dry mouth, do not stop taking your medication as prescribed, but do talk to your dentist in Wicker Park
  • Tooth Loss – Let’s start by saying that there’s no guarantee that we’ll lose our teeth as we get older. There are plenty of people who keep their teeth for a lifetime, especially if they see their dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene habits. However, tooth loss can be a real concern for many people. The best ways to reduce the risk of tooth loss is to avoid smoking or using tobacco, limiting alcohol intake, and seeing your dentist in Wicker Park every six months. These preventative dental appointments help identify problems early while they’re still often easily treatable and can help save your teeth. 
  • Gum Disease – One of the more serious concerns for seniors’ oral health is gum disease. In fact, research suggests a strong link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and stroke. Gum disease occurs when bacteria isn’t removed and it works its way under the gum line. Once this occurs, it becomes difficult to remove and can lead to an infection or advanced gum disease. If not treated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. The common signs of gum disease include red, bleeding, and inflamed gums. 

Unfortunately, there’s no way we can stop ourselves from getting older. But there are things we can do to help protect our teeth for life. Always brush twice a day and floss once a day, and get a professional dental cleaning and check-up at least twice a year. If you’re overdue for your dental appointment, we welcome you to call our Wicker Park dental office to schedule a visit with us today. 

What You Should Know About Dental Implants

dental implantMillions of Americans will suffer tooth loss at some point in their lives. Many times, adult tooth loss can be caused by gum disease or decay that has been left untreated. But even those of us who take great care of our teeth can experience unexpected tooth loss through an injury. At our dental office in Wicker Park, we know that nobody wants to go through life missing a tooth. And the truth is, nobody has to. Thanks to improvements in dental technology and skills, we have the ability to permanently replace teeth through the use of dental implants

Benefits of Dental Implants

Now, while dental implants aren’t the only tooth replacement option available to those missing a tooth or even several teeth, it is usually the preferred treatment method for your dentist in Wicker Park. Unlike other tooth replacement procedures such as a dental bridge or removable denture, a dental implant is a permanent solution that functions very similarly to your natural tooth. It’s like you were never missing one in the first place! There are many benefits to a dental implant including: 

  • The freedom to eat what you want with no worry of slipping dentures.
  • The ability to brush and floss as normal. No soaking necessary.
  • A permanent, strong solution.
  • A natural-looking smile.

Why Should You Consider a Dental Implant?

Losing a tooth isn’t something that only affects your oral health. In fact, leaving a gap in your smile can have side effects on your overall health as well. Chewing food can become difficult or impossible, limiting your ability to fuel your body with proper nutrition. Other teeth may start to shift, causing overlapping or crooked teeth that can lead to jaw pain and a misaligned bite. Your jaw bone is also left without anything there to keep it strong. This can cause bone loss in the jaw and your face to take on a saggy, old appearance. However, replacing a tooth with a dental implant solves all of these issues. 

Since a dental implant replaces the entire tooth’s structure, including the roots, it’s a restoration that functions almost identically to a natural tooth. This allows you to eat what you want, keeps your jaw bone stimulated and strong, and keeps your smile full and straight. 

What’s Getting an Implant Like?

While the dental implant procedure can sound intimidating, scary, and painful, the truth is, many patients find the process very easy and experience minimal pain. The secret? Start by talking with your dentist in Wicker Park to see if a dental implant is right for you. If it is, here’s what you can expect. 

  • Placing of the post. A titanium post is surgically implanted into the jaw bone. This is the structure that replaces your natural tooth root and keeps your jaw bone active.
  • Time to heal. It will take your body a little bit of time to fuse the bone and post together to form a strong foundation. In the meantime, your dentist will provide you with a temporary crown to cover up the post. 
  • Cap it off. After the post is healed completely, your dentist will custom-create a crown (or a cap) and permanently attach it to the post. This crown will be shaded to match other teeth so nobody will ever be able to tell it’s not your natural tooth. 

We believe that nobody should go through life with a missing tooth and invite anyone who may be considering a dental implant or other tooth-replacement option to schedule an appointment with us. We’re here to help all of our neighbors find the right solution for them. Call us today! 

Best Things To Do Before Your Next Dental Visit

calendarThat time has come again. It’s time to see your dentist in Wicker Park. But this time can be different. Whether it’ll be the first time visiting a new office or you’ve been going to the same dentist for many years, there are a few things you can do ahead of time to help make the appointment a little bit easier.

Confirm Your Appointment

One of the easiest things you can do to prepare for your dental appointment and make sure the visit goes smoothly is to confirm your appointment with the office. Ideally, dental offices prefer confirmation 24-hours prior to your scheduled time. Many times dental offices will either call, text, or email you with an appointment reminder. Make sure to respond to these in a timely manner. If your dentist in Wicker Park doesn’t offer that service, try to call the office a day in advance to confirm. This helps eliminate any confusion, makes sure you and the team are on the same page, and protects your personal schedule. 

Prepare Your Health History

Your dentist in Wicker Park is an important part of your healthcare team, and just like medical doctors, they need to know your complete health and medical history. This means that even if you’re not a new patient at the office, you may still need to update your health history form. Make sure you know any and all prescriptions you take along with the dosage, share any health problems you may have, and communicate any changes in your health that may have occurred since your last visit. 

Transfer Records

If this will be your first visit to this dental office, make sure you’ve contacted your previous dentist and requested to have your dental records transferred. Knowing your dental history, being able to access any x-rays or images, and reviewing your previous dentist’s notes will help your team give you the best dental care possible. 

Share Concerns

A lot can happen in between your dental appointments, and if anything does, it’s important for your dentist to know about it. Take a little time to think if anything has been bothering you, if you have any pain or discomfort, or if there are any parts of your smile you wish were different. Then share those concerns with your dentist. The best way to get the best result is to always be honest with your dental team. This will only help further customize your care. 

Know Your Schedule

Most commonly, people see the dentist twice a year. That means that you’ll probably be asked to schedule your next appointment six months from now. If you haven’t looked that far ahead in your schedule, you may be clueless as to what days or times will or won’t work for you. Before your visit, check out your calendar to see if there are any upcoming vacations or prior commitments so you can get rescheduled on a date and time that works with your schedule. 

We’re always accepting new patients at our Wicker Park dental office and welcome you to call to schedule a visit with us today.

Summer Foods That Your Smile Will Love

summer foodAs you’re enjoying the sun this summer and the foods that tend to go along with long summer days and nights, the team at our Wicker Park dental office wants to share a few snack ideas with you that your smile will love. 

Top 4 Summer Foods for Your Smile

When choosing what to eat this summer try this basic rule of thumb: if it’s good for your body, it’s good for your teeth. Try some of the following: 

  • Cheese – Cheese is a great snack for your teeth and your bones. It contains both calcium and vitamin D which work together to keep teeth and bones nice and strong. Cheese can also increase saliva production which will help rinse away bacteria and sugar. 
  • Chicken – Enjoying a piece of grilled chicken breast may sound perfect, after all, it’s healthy and delicious. But the drumsticks, thighs, and wing can be more beneficial for your smile since they contain collagen. Collagen is incredibly important for strong, healthy teeth and gums
  • Vegetables – Crispy, uncooked vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and celery are fantastic snack options for similar reasons as the other foods. Raw veggies rub away buildup on your teeth as you chew and protects your smile against decay. This quick cleaning may also help keep bad breath away. 
  • Water – So this one isn’t really food, but it is really important. Keeping your mouth hydrated by drinking plenty of water will help rinse away food particles and bacteria before they have a chance to settle in and cause damage. 

What to Avoid

The truth is, not all summer snacks are great for your teeth. There are some that can increase your risk of decay and cavities such as:

  • Condiments
  • Soda
  • Alcohol

These foods and drinks either have a lot of sugar, are acidic, or can dry out your mouth — all of which can increase the chance of decay and cavities. 

Choosing healthy snacks (and drinks!) this summer can go a long way in protecting your teeth against decay. But that doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid some of your favorites if they’re on the “avoid” list. Just remember to enjoy those in moderation and of course, see your dentist in Wicker Park regularly.

“What Do I Do If I Have a Dental Emergency?”

man with toothacheLike any type of emergency, a dental emergency can be serious, and you should act quickly. But not all dental emergencies require the same type of treatment. Knowing what to do if you have a dental emergency is key to successful treatment and easing any pain you have. At our dental office in Wicker Park, we’d like to share some of the most common dental emergencies and how to handle each one.  

Broken/Chipped Tooth

What to Do: Clean your mouth and any pieces of the tooth you can find by rinsing with warm water. If you happen to be bleeding, apply a piece of gauze and pressure to the area to help stop it. A cold compress can reduce swelling and ease any pain that you may have.

Lost Filling

What to Do: Losing a filling will leave a hole in your tooth, which can be pretty painful. Get to the dentist as soon as you can. While you’re waiting, you can fill the hole with dental cement that you can buy at many pharmacies or grocery stores. Keep in mind this is a temporary solution.

Knocked Out Tooth

What to Do: One of the scarier dental emergencies is having a tooth knocked out. In this case, promptness is incredibly important. If you can get the tooth back into the socket within an hour, the chance of saving the tooth increases. There are a few things you should know when handling a knocked out tooth. First, only touch the tooth by the crown and do not touch the roots. Then try to place the tooth back into the socket. If this isn’t possible, store the tooth in a cup of milk or keep it under your tongue with some spit.

Toothache

What to Do: A toothache can come on suddenly but typically means a problem has been brewing for a little while. Reduce pain by rinsing with warm salt water, applying a cold compress against the cheek, or using a bit of clove oil to the sore spot.

See Your Dentist in Wicker Park

Even though there are things you can do to help reduce pain related to a dental emergency, it’s still crucial to see your dentist quickly. Early intervention by a dental professional is the absolute best way to successfully treating dental injuries and should not be delayed.

If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, we encourage you to call our Wicker Park dental office as soon as you can. We’re here to help.

Your Guide to Becoming a Dental X-Rays Know-it-All

x-raysWhen you visit our Wicker Park dental office for a checkup, there’s a good chance we may need to take some x-rays of your teeth – especially if it’s your first time seeing us. Both you and your dentist will benefit from the valuable imaging that the x-rays have the power to collect. Since dental x-rays are so valuable, let’s get to know a little bit more about what they are and how they work.

What Exactly is A Dental X-Ray?

X-rays (also referred to as radiographs) can be 2D or 3D images that quickly become an important part of how your Wicker Park dentist prepares an accurate treatment plan. The images give us an idea of what’s going on inside your mouth, highlighting your jaw bone health and tooth structure that lies beneath your gums and enamel. It gives us the added ability to find out if something is going on inside your mouth or teeth that’s not 100 percent visible to the naked eye.

With the advancements in dental technology, there are many different types of x-rays available on both traditional film and digitally. Most dental offices have made the switch to digital x-rays because they tend to emit nearly 80 percent less radiation than film x-rays. Many dentists find that digital x-rays free up appointment times and are easy to save to a patient’s file for future reference and use.

Intraoral and Extraoral: The Two Main Categories of X-Rays

Besides having the ability to be either taken on film or stored digitally, x-rays are divided down into two other categories of either being intraoral or extraoral. How it breaks down is pretty straightforward, and it goes something like this:

Intraoral x-rays – involve any imaging taken from INSIDE your mouth

Extraoral x-rays – involve any imaging taken from OUTSIDE your mouth

Intraoral x-rays give us the chance to see really minute or fine details of both your supporting bone and teeth. They are the most common type of dental x-ray and provide an extremely high level of detail to help us diagnose cavities, examine your tooth roots, look over your bony areas, check the status of developing teeth or ones that have yet to erupt, and more.

Extraoral x-rays are usually relied on to help dentists and orthodontists focus on the bones in your head, particularly your upper and lower jaw. Think of them as x-rays that can help us see the big picture of what’s going on in and around your head and mouth. They help us look at growth and development, monitor impacted teeth, and assess bite issues. Extraoral x-rays tend to be less detailed than the intraoral variety.

Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Most of the x-rays used in dental offices across the country today give off a minimal amount of radiation. It’s important to note that you should always limit your exposure to x-rays and avoid repeated use as it can damage cells over time due to the small, continued radiation aftereffects.

Dental x-rays are certainly safer than ever thanks to advancements in dentistry over the years. Dentists now rely on using lower x-ray dosages, higher quality film, film holders, and well-designed, full-body aprons lined with lead. It’s important to note though that most of the modern dental x-ray technology that’s available today give off very little stray radiation.

We hope you’ve learned a little bit about dental x-rays and how critical they are in helping your dentist in Wicker Park make sure your mouth is always in optimal health, from your teeth to your bones. X-rays can help you big time because they allow us to detect issues early before they become more costly to fix down the road. If you have any questions about your dental x-rays or when you’re due for a new set, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Calcium and Teeth: 3 Things You Need to Know

foods with calciumWe believe in doing everything we can to help you have a healthy smile at our Wicker Park dental office, and that includes helping you decide what nutrients are good for your teeth. Today, we thought we’d focus on calcium because it’s beneficial for strong bones and teeth.

#1: Calcium can help protect your teeth.

Your bones and teeth store nearly all of the calcium within your body, according to findings from the National Institutes of Health. Calcium can make your teeth more resistant to bad stuff such as cavities and decay.

Besides making your bones and teeth stronger, calcium also helps your muscles and blood vessels work more effectively. Babies need calcium to help their teeth and bones grow strong. Young children are the same way.

#2: Adults need the right amount of calcium in their diet.

Your Wicker Park dentist will tell you calcium is 100% good for your smile because it can help strengthen your enamel so that you’ve got added protection against early tooth deterioration. That’s why adults should make sure that they monitor their calcium intake too, in order to avoid osteoporosis or brittle bones as they age. But what is the daily recommended amount of calcium for adults? According to the Mayo Clinic it’s around:

MEN

  • 19-50 years old – 1,000mg daily
  • 51-70 years old – 1,000mg daily
  • 71 and older – 1,2000mg daily

WOMEN

  • 19-50 years old – 1,000mg daily
  • 51 and older – 1,200mg daily

#3: Calcium doesn’t always have to come from dairy.

Helping your smile stay healthy with calcium can be tricky if you struggle with lactose intolerance… or simply don’t eat or like dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and milk. The good news is that companies are starting to wise up and fortify their food products with calcium. You’ll see this in orange juices, waffles, and even tofu. Canned fish, leafy greens, almonds, beans, and soy milk are calcium-rich dairy substitutes you’re welcome to try at home.

Getting the right amount of calcium in your diet, no matter what your age, is very important to help keep your smile and your gums healthy. It’s really a benefit that your whole body will thank you for. We thank you for reading your blog. If you have any questions about your smile or need to schedule a visit with your dentist in Wicker Park, call us to get started.

How to Get a Whiter Smile

teeth whiteningThere are a number of things that can stain our teeth and make them look dull and discolored. When this happens, we tend to look for ways to bring back our bright, white smiles. At our dental office in Wicker Park, we have some good news — there are many ways to whiten your teeth! Let’s take a look at some of the most common things you can do to get a whiter smile.

Professional Teeth Whitening

The best way to whiten your smile fast is to get professional whitening from your dentist in Wicker Park. Even though this option is more costly than many over-the-counter tooth whitening products, you can customize just how white you want your teeth to get and see the results immediately. Many times dental offices can also provide you with custom trays and whitening gel that you can use at home safely to maintain your new look.

DIY Smile Whitening

If you’re looking for ways to whiten your teeth, you may begin by exploring all of the options in your local grocery store or online. While there are tons of over-the-counter smile whitening products available, and they can be cheaper than a professional whitening, they do come with some risks. For example, you may be using a solution that’s too high for your teeth that could cause sensitivity and pain. Additionally, whitening strips and non-custom trays can allow the solution to seep into your gums. If left too long it can cause gum damage. Lastly, over-the-counter tooth whitening products tend to take longer to work.  

Cosmetic Dentistry

If traditional forms of smile whitening just aren’t making your teeth as white as you’d like, you may be a candidate for cosmetic dentistry. The truth is, there are some types of tooth staining that don’t respond to whitening gels. In this case, the best solution may be dental veneers. Dental veneers essentially cover up the front of your natural teeth with a custom-made slice of porcelain. These veneers can be your ideal shade of white and are shaped to blend in with your other natural teeth.

It’s important to note that you should talk to your dentist before beginning any whitening treatment. Not all whitening solutions are appropriate for everyone. To find the best option for you and to reduce the risk of negative side effects, meet with your dentist.

If you’re unhappy with the color of your teeth, call our Wicker Park dental office to schedule an appointment today. We’ll talk with you about what you’d like to change as well as your oral health history so we can recommend the best tooth whitening treatment for you.  

All About Oral Cancer

oral cancer awarenessThis month is Oral Cancer Awareness Month — a month-long dedication to increasing the public’s knowledge of this serious and scary disease. At our dental office in Wicker Park, we’re all about doing whatever we can to help keep our neighbors healthy, so we’re spreading the word about just how serious oral cancer is, how to recognize the signs, and what you can do to reduce your risk.

Oral Cancer Statistics

The word “cancer” itself instills some fear in all of us. It’s a scary disease that affects millions of Americans every year. Oral cancer is no different. It’s a widespread problem that can take the lives of those affected. In fact, oral cancer kills one person every hour, every day annually. That’s more than 8,500 people each and every year. This year alone, more than 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Symptoms

Being aware of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer can save your life. However, many signs of oral cancer can resemble other non-serious oral health problems. So if you notice any of the signs below and they don’t go away, call your dentist in Wicker Park as soon as possible to get checked out and ease your mind.  

  • Pain while swallowing, chewing, or speaking
  • Changes in voice
  • A sore or discoloration that doesn’t go away after two weeks
  • A lump inside the mouth or neck
  • Chronic bad breath

The most successful way to treat oral cancer is to diagnose it early. This is also one reason why you should see your dentist at least every six months.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

Oral cancer can happen to anyone, but there are factors that can put someone at greater risk. Some we can control, others we cannot. Some risk factors are:

  • Tobacco Use: 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users including those who smoke cigarettes, cigars, or use smokeless tobacco.
  • Drinking Alcohol: Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
  • Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
  • Age: Those over the age of 50 are at increased risk of oral cancer.

At our Wicker Park dental office, we care about keeping our neighbors healthy. If you have any questions, are concerned about your risk of oral cancer, or it’s been more than six months since you’ve seen a dentist, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us.

(312)818-2441
Monica Urda, DDS
1755 W North Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
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