Another Option Besides a Tooth Extraction

young man with toothacheSo you’ve been told you need to have a tooth extracted. Going through this treatment may even sound appealing if you’ve been suffering from tooth pain. But the team at our dental office in Wicker Park wants you to know that you may have another option available.

Consider a Root Canal

A tooth extraction is usually recommended when a tooth has severe decay or sustained a serious dental trauma. But there are times when a natural tooth can be saved despite the damage. The treatment of choice for severely decayed teeth is often a root canal. Even though this treatment has a bad reputation of being painful, it’s usually the best option to save a tooth from extraction.

What is a Root Canal?

If you ask the general population what the worst dental treatment is, we’re willing to bet most of them would say a root canal. But that claim is outdated and simply no longer true. Advanced dental technology makes root canal treatment incredibly comfortable. During a root canal, your dentist in Wicker Park will numb the area, make a teeny hole in the infected tooth, and remove any infected material lurking inside the tooth. Afterward, a dental crown caps the tooth. While the treatment itself may seem scary, it actually allows for almost immediate pain relief.

When Won’t a Root Canal Work?

There’s no one answer for any given situation, but there are occasions when a root canal won’t resolve pain or fix the problem. When this happens, a tooth extraction is probably the best option. Of course, keeping your natural teeth for as long as possible is always the desired outcome for any dentist. But when that’s not possible and an extraction is needed, you should consider tooth replacement options such as:

Replacing any lost tooth is important to maintain not only the cosmetic appearance of your smile but also its proper function. When a tooth is pulled it opens up a space. This can allow other teeth to shift. The result may be a change in bite and ultimately TMJ or jaw problems.

Our Wicker Park dental office is committed to preventing the need for advanced dental treatment such as a root canal or extraction. Part of what allows us to do that is making sure we see you twice a year for a dental checkup. These visits allow us to check for any new decay and treat it before it has a chance to affect deep into the tooth.

If you’re overdue for a dental checkup, call us to schedule an appointment today.

5 Surprising Things That Destroy Teeth

ice cubes and lemonBy now we all know that things such as sugar and smoking can really damage teeth and oral health. But there are several other things out there that are also bad for your smile… some that may even surprise you. Join our dental office in Wicker Park as we cover some of the most surprising ways you may be damaging your teeth.  

Citrus Fruits & Acidic Drinks

Sugar tends to get all of the blame when it comes to cavities and damaged teeth. However, the truth is, acidic foods and drinks like citrus fruit and wine can also lead to oral health problems. Acid erodes enamel and leaves teeth exposed to the bacteria that cause decay. Losing enamel may also cause tooth sensitivity and increase pain when eating or drinking hot or cold treats.

Biting Your Nails

Biting your nails may seem relatively harmless, but this common habit can wreak havoc on teeth. First, the way the jaw moves when we bite our nails is unnatural, and the repeated motion can place too much pressure on the jaw joint. This can result in jaw pain and symptoms of TMJ/TMD. Second, nail biting can lead to chipped, cracked, or broken teeth that would require dental treatment to fix.

Eating Ice

It’s not uncommon to want to crunch on the ice floating in your drink. But these frozen cubes are really bad for teeth. Not only can they chip or break teeth, but they can also create tiny cracks where bacteria can easily hide. These bacteria can then increase the chance of decay. Damage caused by eating ice can be so severe that cosmetic dentistry may be the only fix.

Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard

While brushing your teeth twice a day is recommended by your dentist in Wicker Park, it doesn’t mean that just any brushing will do. A proper brushing uses a soft-bristled toothbrush and a gentle scrubbing to whisk away bacteria and plaque. Brushing your teeth too hard can have the opposite effect and actually damage teeth and gums.

Whitening Too Often

Most smile whitening methods, including in-office and take-home whitening products,  are safe and effective. But whitening your teeth too much can lead to damage. Using smile whitening products excessively may cause sensitivity, gum irritation, and enamel erosion.  

Keeping your smile healthy is a combination of professional teeth cleanings, regular dental checkups, brushing and flossing every day, and limiting your exposure to any environmental or lifestyle factors that can damage teeth.

Quit Smoking for Better Oral Health

man smokingThe American Cancer Society sponsors an event every November to raise awareness for all the health problems associated with smoking and provide tips and tools on how to quit the habit. This year, the Great American Smokeout will fall on November 15, and our dental office in Wicker Park wants to do our part to help our neighbors put down the cigarettes once and for all. So this month we’re covering some of the top reasons to quit smoking.

  • Oral Cancer

One of the main reasons to quit smoking is to reduce your risk of cancer. Even though there are several types of cancer associated with tobacco use, oral cancer is one that your dentist in Wicker Park can help you diagnose and fight. When caught early, oral cancer treatments can be incredibly successful, but quitting smoking is one way to greatly reduce your risk of developing it in the first place. In fact, smokers are six times more likely to get oral cancer than non-smokers.

  • Yellow Teeth & Bad Breath

The ingredients found in tobacco products aren’t only dangerous to overall health, some of the most harmful ones can directly affect your mouth. Tar and nicotine, for example, can stick to plaque build-up on teeth, gums, and even the tongue making them difficult to remove. When these ingredients linger around too long or are introduced into the mouth repeatedly, they can cause tooth discoloration and chronic bad breath.

  • Gum Disease

Gum disease is a serious oral health problem that can lead to other issues throughout the body including increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Research has shown that smokers are 50% more likely to get gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease may lead to tooth loss.

  • Dry Mouth

Smoking reduces saliva production in the mouth and leaves your teeth exposed to plaque, bacteria, and acid that can damage teeth. Without saliva around to help neutralize acids and wash away damaging bacteria, teeth are at an increased risk for cavities, decay, and the need for advanced dental treatment.

Make 2018 the year you finally become smoke-free. Our Wicker Park dental office is here to help you in any way we can. Talk to us about quitting and we can work together to find the tools and program best suited for you.

How to Get a Better Looking Smile

woman hiding smileOur smiles are one of the first things others notice about us, and they can say a lot about who we are. After all, we use our smiles to display friendliness as well as express emotions. But if you’re unhappy with the way your smile looks, it may affect your self-confidence and unfortunately, first impressions made by others. Our dental office in Wicker Park has tips for our neighbors on how they can get a better smile.

Cosmetic Dentistry

When it comes to improving the appearance of your smile, the best place to start is by talking with your dentist in Wicker Park about cosmetic dentistry. There are many forms of cosmetic dentistry available to fix nearly anything you dislike about your smile. Let’s take a look at some of the most common cosmetic dentistry treatments and how they transform teeth.

Smile Whitening

The most popular form of cosmetic dentistry is smile whitening. While there are kits available at your local store or online, the best tooth whitening product is found at your dentist’s office. Professional whitening contains more powerful whitening gel than any over-the-counter kit and can dramatically whiten teeth in as little as one visit.

Tooth-Colored Fillings

If you have several silver fillings, your smile may appear dark or dull. But thanks to advancements in dental technology, we now have another option that’s more aesthetically pleasing. Tooth-colored fillings, also known as composite fillings, can replace old silver fillings and really brighten your smile.

Porcelain Veneers

Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are bonded to the surface of teeth to cover up imperfections such as deep stains that can’t be removed through whitening alone, gaps, crooked teeth, or broken teeth. Dental veneers are created to match the shape and color of your other teeth so they appear natural.

Dental Bonding

When it comes to fixing chips or cracks in teeth, dental bonding may be your best solution. Similar to veneers, the dental bonding material is mixed to compliment the tooth’s natural color. It’s then shaped onto the affected area and hardened for a seamless and strong restoration.

Getting a smile you’re proud of can transform your confidence and your life. We welcome you to schedule an appointment at our Wicker Park dental office. We will talk with you about what you’d like to change about your smile and discuss the best cosmetic dentistry treatment for you.

It’s National Dental Hygiene Month at Your Wicker Park Dental Office

hygienist with patientThe month of October seems to kick off the beginning of the holiday season, and at our dental office in Wicker Park, we have one more reason to celebrate! Every October the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) sponsors National Dental Hygiene Month to recognize the hard work and dedication of dental hygienists all around America. We’re so lucky to have our talented hygiene team and we wanted to dedicate this blog to them and their jobs!

What Do Dental Hygienists Do?

Dental hygienists are responsible for many aspects of their patients’ oral health and are often the first line of defense for patients. Their main responsibilities revolve around the prevention of many dental concerns including cavities and gum disease. Besides providing patients with a thorough cleaning at every appointment, they also help educate patients on oral hygiene, answer any concerns patients may have, and many will take dental x-rays.

Let’s Talk About Oral Hygiene

Perhaps the most common thing that dental hygienists do is give their patients tips on how to maintain a healthy mouth. They’ll talk about proper brushing and flossing techniques, whether mouthwash may be beneficial, and other tricks to help keep teeth problem and cavity-free. Let’s take a closer look at each aspect of a good oral hygiene routine.

Brush

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth twice a day — once in the morning and once at night — for a minimum of two minutes each time. During those two minutes, your hygienist and dentist in Wicker Park suggest using gentle circles with a soft-bristled toothbrush held at a 45 degree angle. Practicing this technique will remove bacteria and plaque from teeth without causing damage.

Floss

We should all floss our teeth everyday, and not just when we feel the annoyance of piece of food stuck between our teeth. If we don’t floss regularly we actually don’t clean about 35% of every tooth. Food particles left around too long will only feed bacteria and increase the chance for decay. Make sure to gently wiggle floss between each tooth and up under the gums.

Rinse

When it comes to mouthwash, your dental hygienist may or may not suggest using one. There are plenty types of mouthwash that can help an assortment of concerns such as dry mouth. However, some mouthwashes may make some problems worse. For example, mouthwashes that contain alcohol may actually make dry mouth worse and only temporarily alleviate bad breath. Talk with your hygienist about what’s right for you.

Chew

Believe it or not, chewing a piece of sugar-free gum can help keep mouths healthy. Look for a gum with the ADA Seal of Acceptance — this means it’s been researched and declared safe for smiles. Chewing gum in between brushings or after meals can increase saliva production which will help neutralize acid, protecting teeth against decay and enamel wear.

The next time you visit our Wicker Park dental office, make sure to thank your dental hygienist. Also make sure to keep your appointments every six months, practice good at-home oral hygiene, and contact us as soon as possible if you experience a dental emergency.

Bad Breath Remedies

embarrassed womanAt our dental office in Wicker Park, we understand how having bad breath can affect our patients’ lives. We’re commonly asked what causes bad breath in the first place, and more importantly, how to make it go away. In this week’s blog we cover a few helpful bad breath remedies that can help freshen breath once and for all.

4 Ways to Beat Bad Breath

  • Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Making sure you brush every day, twice per day is one of the best ways to remove any bacteria from your teeth that may be contributing to bad breath. But these stinky bacteria don’t only live on teeth, they also lurk under the gums. That’s one reason why flossing everyday is also an important part of any oral hygiene routine. Also, don’t forget about your tongue. It’s packed with tiny grooves and places where bacteria love to hide. Gently brushing your tongue or using a tongue scraper can really help.

  • Quit Smoking

Smokers’ breath can be blamed on more than just the smell of cigarettes alone. Chemicals in cigarettes can also contribute to an unpleasant smell. These chemicals linger in the mouth long after a cigarette is put out and can prolong bad breath. The smoke itself also stays in the lungs for a period of time after smoking and releases a little bit with every breath.

  • Eat More Healthy Foods

There’s some truth to the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Eating crunchy, raw fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery, and carrots will help scrub plaque and bacteria off of teeth to help keep breath fresh.

  • Hydrate Your Mouth

Certain medications, smoking, and a number of other things can cause dry mouth. And what tends to go hand-in-hand with dry mouth? Bad breath. While drinking plenty of water daily can help, there are times when that’s just not enough. If that’s the case, you can talk to your dentist about the possibility of using a hydrating rinse. Also consider that if you’re stuffy and can’t breathe out of your nose, there’s a good chance your mouth will dry out from so much mouth breathing. A decongestant may help.

Bad Breath Isn’t Just a Mouth Problem

Having chronic bad breath can be embarrassing, but it may also be a sign of something more serious. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be a sign of gum disease. Gum disease is a serious infection that can begin to affect the rest of the body if left untreated. Many studies have shown a link between gum disease and diabetes, an increased risk for heart disease, and stroke. What’s more is different types of smells may indicate a problem somewhere else in the body including liver or kidney disease.

Bad breath isn’t something to take lightly. It’s best to talk with your dentist in Wicker Park about how long you’ve experienced bad breath, your health history, and any other symptoms you may have sooner rather than later.

If you have bad breath we welcome you to schedule an appointment at our Wicker Park dental office. We’ll work with you to find the root of the problem and discuss the best ways to get you relief. Don’t wait, give us a call today.

Eat Whole Grains for a Healthy Smile

whole grainsSeptember is recognized as Whole Grains Month and is a 30-day celebration for all things grainy. These whole grains are beneficial for heart health, overall health, and may even boost oral health too. In this blog, our Wicker Park dental office covers some quick facts about whole grains and how it relates to good oral health, as well as some of the best ways you can help your family get enough of the good stuff.

How Many Servings of Whole Grains Do You Need?

Like most things, the recommended amount of whole grains varies from age to age and even by gender. Use the handy table below from the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to determine how many whole grains each member of your family should eat every day.

Recommended Daily Whole Grain Servings

Age Female Male
1-3 2 2
4-8 2.5 2.5
9-13 3 3.5
14-18 3.5 4
19-30 3.5 4.5
31+ 3 4

Great Sources of Whole Grain

Getting enough whole grains in your diet may seem difficult, but whole grains can be found in tons of delicious foods including:

  • Cereals
  • Popcorn
  • Bread or Wraps
  • Crackers
  • Pasta

How Do Whole Grains Help Grins?

Whole grains are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are great for bodies of all ages. In terms of oral health, the B vitamins and iron found in whole grains help keep gums healthy, and the magnesium keeps bones and teeth strong. Research also shows that eating a good dose of whole grains can also reduce the risk of gum disease since whole grains help the body better process blood sugar. As we all know, sugar makes your dentist in Wicker Park shiver, and anything that helps protect the body against it is welcomed.

Ensuring that your whole family is eating a well-balanced diet can go a long way in keep both bodies and smiles healthy. Getting regular dental checkups every six months can help too.  If anyone in your family is in need of a dentist, call our dental office in Wicker Park to schedule an appointment today.

The Do’s & Don’ts to Getting a White Smile

woman smiling in the sunshineAs we near Labor Day, many people will begin packing away their white clothes until next year. After all, wearing white after Labor Day is typically considered a fashion faux pas. However, at our dental office in Wicker Park, we believe that a white smile never goes out style, and you should be proud to show yours off all year around. But what do you do if your smile isn’t as white and bright as you’d like? Join us as we talk about a few do’s and don’ts  to getting a white smile you love.

Start with Your Dentist

If you’re unhappy with the color of your smile we recommend scheduling an appointment with your dentist in Wicker Park. At this visit you and your dental team will discuss what it is you don’t like as well as what you’d like to see. This will allow your team to make the best recommendation for you.

Professional Smile Whitening

One option for getting a brighter smile is a professional smile whitening treatment. Done either at your dentist’s office or at home with specialized whitening gel, a professional smile whitening can boost your smile’s look better than the over-the-counter whiteners.

Dental Veneers

Another treatment option that can help transform your look is dental veneers. These thin pieces of custom-create porcelain cover your natural teeth and can not only give you a whiter smile, but can also fix minor cosmetic concerns such as chipped teeth.

After you complete your treatment, whichever one you choose, there are few things you’ll want to do, and several that you’ll to avoid, in order to keep your new look as white as possible.  

DO use straws whenever possible, especially if you’ll be drinking soda, tea, coffee or anything that may stain teeth. Using a straw helps keep the liquid off of teeth, limiting the chance for staining.

DON’T smoke or use tobacco of any kind. Tobacco can yellow your teeth or even cause brown spots. Of course, it also increases your risk for oral cancer, gum disease, and other whole-body health problems.

DON’T forget to brush and floss every day. Removing any plaque and bacteria from the teeth will help keep stains away and protect your smile against decay. Decay will also cause teeth to discolor if not treated.

DO maintain regular visits with your dentist to help remove plaque and tartar buildup. Too much plaque or tartar makes it easier for staining agents in foods and drinks to stick. The stains are then more difficult to remove.

If you’re ready to sport a bright, white smile this Labor Day and all year around, we welcome you to call our Wicker Park dental office to schedule an appointment today. We’re always here to help!

3 Things That Can Cause Excessive Mouth Watering

man wondersSaliva production is a natural and important part of good oral health. We need it to help protect our teeth from cavities, breakdown food so our stomachs can digest them more easily, and fight off bad breath bacteria. But the team at our Wicker Park dental office wants you to know that there is such a thing as producing too much saliva. When it comes to spit, more isn’t necessarily better.

How is Too Much of a Good Thing a Bad Thing?

We already know that saliva is beneficial for both our oral health and our digestive health. So it only makes sense that more of it can only mean good things. Except in this case, it doesn’t. But how can something that’s good for us also be bad? When someone produces too much saliva, also known as hypersalivation, it can not only be uncomfortable, but also embarrassing and perhaps even a sign that something else is going on.

What Causes Excessive Saliva Production?

Like many things related to our bodies, there is no one definite cause behind hypersalivation, and there could be a variety of explanations. Let’s take a closer look at three of them…

  • Infection

When there is an active infection in the mouth, the body may try to fight it off by producing more and more saliva. This is just one more reason it’s important to see your dentist in Wicker Park regularly.

  • Medication

All medications come paired with some sort of side effects. Excessive saliva production may be one of them. If you think this may be the cause of your mouth watering, do not stop any medications before talking with your doctor.

  • Poisoning

One of the more serious, yet rare, causes of hypersalivation is poisoning. Saliva production can go into overdrive following a bite from spider or reptile venom, eating poisonous mushrooms, or poisoning caused by mercury, or copper.

Know the Signs

Besides the more obvious signs of hypersalivation such as drooling or spitting, other symptoms may include:

  • Bad breath
  • Chapped lips
  • Dehydration
  • Difficulty eating or drinking
  • Changes in speech

Even though mouth watering may be annoying, there’s a good chance it’s not caused by something incredibly serious. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. The best thing you can do is see a dentist to better understand the root cause as well as the best treatment option for you.

We’re here to help our neighbors get and keep a healthy mouth. We welcome you to schedule an appointment at our dental office in Wicker Park.

What Are Dental Veneers?

dental veneersIf you’re unhappy with the appearance of your smile, there are a wide variety of cosmetic dentistry treatments that can transform your look. At our dental office in Wicker Park, we’ve helped many patients restore their confidence by restoring their smiles through cosmetic dentistry. One of the most common cosmetic dentistry treatments is dental veneers. This permanent procedure can help fix a variety of dental concerns. Join us as we take a closer look at what dental veneers are, how they can transform a smile, and how the procedure is performed.

Dental Veneers

Dental veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are adhered to the surface of teeth. They’re custom designed for each individual patient so that they look natural. Size, shape, and color are all artistically considered in order to blend in with other teeth seamlessly. An incredibly versatile treatment, dental veneers can help fix several cosmetic concerns.

What Can Veneers Do?  

While there are plenty of treatments that your dentist in Wicker Park can use to enhance any smile, dental veneers can complete the work of several different treatments at one time. Some of the dental problems that can be fixed using veneers include:

  • Gaps
  • Crookedness or unevenness  
  • Worn down teeth
  • Discoloration
  • Chips, cracks, or breaks

What’s Dental Veneer Treatment Like?

First and foremost your veneer treatment should start with a consultation. During this visit, you and your dentist will talk about your concerns and desired result in order to determine if veneers are right for you. If so, a treatment plan and costs will be discussed and your next appointment will be scheduled.

At this next appointment, treatment will begin by preparing your teeth for the veneers. In order to achieve a natural look, a thin layer of your tooth enamel will be gently removed. This allows the veneer to cover your tooth completely and be placed under the gums. Most often, temporary veneers will be placed will the permanent ones are being created at trusted dental lab. Once they’re done, you’ll return to the office to have them permanently placed.

We believe that everyone deserves to have a smile they’re proud of. If you’re not in love with yours or you’re embarrassed by it, we welcome you schedule a consultation at our Wicker Park dental office. We’ll listen to you and work with you to determine the best treatment for you.

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