April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

oral cancer awarenessOral cancer is a very serious disease that affects thousands of Americans every year. While it may not be talked about as often as other cancers, it’s just as scary and can take the lives of those who get it. At our Wicker Park dental office, we take each April to talk about the importance of early detection, recognizing the signs, and knowing what puts you at increased risk.

Oral Cancer by The Numbers

The number of Americans who get oral cancer continues to grow every year. In 2018, the American Cancer Society estimates that over 51,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer. Another 10,000 will die from it. But thanks to advancements in early detection and treatment, survival rates are high if it’s caught in the early stages.

Some Signs of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer symptoms are often overlooked as other non-serious problems which makes early diagnosis sometimes difficult. However, catching oral cancer early is key to a successful and life-saving treatment. It’s always better to be safe and see your dentist in Wicker Park if you notice any of the following potential signs of oral cancer:

  • A mouth sore that doesn’t go away
  • A lump or thickening in the cheek area
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Changes in voice
  • Persistent bad breath

Avoid These Risk Factors

There are many known risk factors that increase the chance of oral cancer. Some we can control, others we cannot. For example, genetics, being over age 55, and being male are all uncontrollable things that may put someone at increased risk for oral cancer. However, the following lifestyle choices, also known to raise the risk, can be avoided:  

How to Protect Yourself

Avoiding the lifestyle risk factors listed above is a great step to help prevent the development of oral cancer. But there are other steps you can take to minimize your risk. One of the best ways is maintaining bi-annual visits with your dentist in Wicker Park. At these visits, your dental team is looking for any areas that may present signs of oral cancer so the disease can be caught and treated early. Again, early diagnosis greatly increases the chance of survival. Getting a dental checkup every six months may just save your life.

If you’re in need of dentist, we welcome you to contact our Wicker Park dental office to schedule an appointment today. We’re always happy to help our neighbors get a healthy smile that also can get them a healthy body.

“Why Do I Have Dreams Where My Teeth Fall Out?”

woman wakes from nightmareAt our dental office in Wicker Park, we occasionally have a patient who is concerned with a recurring dream where they lose their teeth. Sometimes one tooth becomes curiously loose and just pops right out. Other times the whole mouth of teeth begins to crumble, leading to a totally toothless smile. While we understand these dreams can be disturbing, the likelihood that they’re related to your real dental health is slim. Instead, we’re going to look at three possible explanations…

Feelings of Anxiety or Helplessness

The most widely accepted interpretation of dreams where your teeth fall out revolve around feeling anxious or helpless. Occasionally, the dreams only happen during when you’re life is a bit too stressful. Other times, however, the dreams are recurring and happen regularly. According to a Psychological Reports study, repeatedly experiencing dreams in which you lose your teeth may be more common in those in those whose personality contains high levels of anxiety, those who are depressed, and those who struggle with self-esteem issues.

An Impending Serious Decision

In life, there are times when we need to make difficult decisions that can affect everything. Perhaps you’re considering quitting your job, but are nervous about how that decision will affect your family. Maybe you’re unhappy in a relationship and are questioning how that decision will change your life as you know it. When these stressful decisions need to be made, it can make us feel as if we don’t have any control over our own lives. During these events we’re more likely to experience tooth loss dreams.

A Positive Rebirth

Not all of the common dream interpretations are attributed to something so worrisome. In fact, according to research conducted by psychologist Carl Jung, dreaming about your teeth falling out can be a sign of rebirth. Whether you’re starting a new, exciting job, finally getting serious about that hobby you’ve always wanted to try, or embarking in a new relationship, there are many life events that can be fulfilling and positive. But they are still changes and sometimes our unconscious mind constructs that in a subconscious dream. In this case, a dream where you lose your teeth.  

If you suffer from dreams about your teeth falling out, try not to worry about your real-life teeth. There’s no studied evidence that suggests the two are linked together. In fact, most dreams are not accurate representations of what will happen in real life, but rather symbols of how our psyche reacts to life’s situations.

However, if you are missing a tooth or are at risk for losing one or several, we welcome you to talk to us about some tooth replacement options including dental implants, a dental bridge, and dentures. Call our Wicker Park dental office to schedule a consultation today!  

Think Twice Before Drinking That Green Beer

green beerThe luck of Irish tends to be with everyone during St. Patrick’s Day, whether or not there’s an ounce of Irish in them. Besides wearing a lot of green, one of the most common ways to celebrate this holiday is by drinking a lot of beer. At our dental office in Wicker Park, we hope that our patients enjoy the festivities responsibly, but also want them to be aware of some of the oral health dangers of drinking too much alcohol.

Where’s My White Smile?!

There are plenty of things that can cause your normally bright, white teeth to take on a dull or discolored appearance. Drinking beer excessively happens to be one of them. Too much beer over time can transform your teeth into looking yellow or even slightly brown. While darker beers put you at greater risk, all beer can lead to discoloration…especially the green stuff so many people enjoy during St. Patrick’s Day. The dye used to give the beer its festive appearance can also dye your teeth pretty quickly. But don’t worry, this greenish tint can usually be removed by using a slightly more abrasive tooth whitening toothpaste or by seeing your Wicker Park dentist for a cleaning or professional smile whitening.

Weakened Teeth

Your teeth are protected by one of the strongest materials in your body — your tooth enamel. But this enamel can be damaged by acid, despite its strength. Beer contains a lot of acid, and when its consumed in large amounts, your teeth are basically bathing in it. This can cause your enamel to erode. Without the enamel, your teeth are at risk for decay, increased sensitivity, and even discoloration. As the enamel wears away, your teeth become more translucent and the inner part of the tooth, which is actually dark in color, becomes visible. Teeth can then appear dull or gray.  

Protect Your Health

Enjoying alcoholic beverages in moderation greatly reduces your risk of any alcohol related oral health problems. But besides choosing to limit your alcohol intake, there are other ways you can further protect your smile including:

  • Drinking water after every alcoholic beverage
  • Maintaining a great oral health care routine of brushing and flossing every day
  • Scheduling and keeping appointments with your dentist in Wicker Park twice a year

Whether you’re due for a dental checkup or are looking for help in minimizing your St. Patty’s Day green smile, we’re always happy to see new patients and welcome you to our Wicker Park dental office. Call to schedule an appointment with us today!

The Surprising Link to Heart Disease

heart health monthEven though it may seem that our cardiovascular health can’t have anything to do with our oral health, research has shown a surprising connection between the two. During this American Heart Health Month, our dental office in Wicker Park would like to do our part to help raise awareness of heart disease by sharing the link between oral health and heart health.

It Starts With The Gums

Your dentist in Wicker Park is concerned with much more than just your teeth. In fact, an area that gets a lot of attention at your bi-annual visits are your gums. Your gums can hold a lot of information about not only the health of your mouth, but can play a role in heart health too. If the gums are healthy, they’ll be pink in color and tight to the teeth. However, if these qualities aren’t observed, there’s a chance gum disease may be present. Gum disease is a serious infection that can progress to gingivitis or periodontitis, and can even cause tooth loss.

How Does Gum Disease Affect The Heart?

If gum disease isn’t treated, the infection can move into the bloodstream. When this happens, your body produces more C-reactive protein (CRP) than normal. Elevated levels of CRP can cause some serious cardiovascular issues including:

  • Inflamed arteries
  • Blood clots
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes   

Signs of Gum Disease

If you have any of the symptoms listed below, contact your Wicker Park dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as you can.

  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Puffy, tender gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth

How to Prevent Gum Disease

The best way to prevent gum disease and protect your mouth and heart is to brush and floss every day. Make sure to also visit your dentist at least twice a year. It’s important to know that gum disease can be treated, and treatment is easier and more successful if caught early. That’s part of what makes seeing your dentist regularly so important.

If you’re overdue for a dental appointment, give our Wicker Park dental office a call today.

The 6 Cavity-Causing Culprits You May Not Know About

woman looks at teeth in mirrorThere are many widely known causes of cavities including eating too much sugar, not brushing or flossing your teeth enough, or avoiding regular visits to your Wicker Park dentist. But there are also plenty of lesser known cavity-causing culprits out there that you should be aware of…

Teeth with Deep Grooves

Many people naturally have teeth with many deep grooves. Most commonly found in the back molars, these grooves can make it difficult to fully remove food particles and bacteria. This makes them the perfect place for bacteria to bury in and create tooth decay.

Genetics

Our genes play a large role in our overall health, including the health of our mouths. Some genes make certain people more susceptible to having large amounts of mouth bacteria while others can be responsible for brittle teeth. Both of these concerns are likely to increase the person’s risk of cavities.

Certain Medications

Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications and even some cancer treatments. While this may seem like no big deal or simply an unpleasant feeling, dry mouth can be dangerous to oral health. When someone suffers from dry mouth, they aren’t producing enough saliva to rinse away bacteria or neutralize acid. This allows the bacteria to hang around and decay teeth and the acid to damage protective enamel. Without enamel, teeth are at even more risk for decay.

Aging

Just like the rest of our bodies, our oral health changes as we get older. Our teeth may become weaker, our mouths drier, and our gums may even recede. All of these things allow bacteria to attack our mouths and teeth, increasing the likelihood of cavities.

Dental Restorations

Dental restorations such as fillings are designed to fix problems such as cavities. However, if done improperly they can have an adverse effect. Loose fillings or ones that are too large can allow bacteria to get under them. If this happens, the decay can continue to affect the tooth. Most likely, the filling will need to be replaced.

Grinding Your Teeth

Tooth grinding is common among the U.S. population. Whether done during sleep or as a response to stress, it can not only damage teeth, it can also make it easier for cavities to form. The repeated tooth-on-tooth grinding wears away enamel. As we learned earlier, less enamel means more risk for cavities.

We recommend doing your best to avoid the controllable lifestyle choices above that contribute to dental decay. And while you may not be able to totally avoid or change the others, our dental office in Wicker Park can help reduce the effect they have on your teeth. We welcome you to schedule an appointment so we can work together to prevent cavities or other oral health problems.

Are All Those Claims About Charcoal Toothpaste Really True?

charcoal toothpasteThere’s recently been a surge in the popularity of using charcoal toothpaste to get a whiter smile. Promoters of the charcoal toothpaste trend claim that it can help whiten teeth effectively without the risk of increased sensitivity that may result from using other products. But does it really work? Join the team at our Wicker Park dental office as we dive into the truth.

What Exactly is Charcoal Toothpaste?

Before we launch into whether or not charcoal toothpaste can really whiten your smile, let’s look into what the stuff actually is. Charcoal toothpaste uses something called activated charcoal, which is much different than the charcoal you’d use to grill a burger. Activated charcoal is a form of carbon that’s been treated in order to make it incredibly porous. Since the porous nature makes activated charcoal really great at absorption, the thought is that it can pull stains, tartar, and bacteria away from teeth.

Is Charcoal Toothpaste Safe?

The short answer is yes, charcoal toothpaste is safe for the human body. Even though the modern age of the world wide web may have popularized the use of it, its usage has a rich history dating way back to the days of the ancient Romans. In fact, a powder form of charcoal was a pretty common ingredient in their toothpastes. Besides its dental usage, activated charcoal was, and still sometimes is, used to treat people who have been poisoned.

So, Does it Whiten Teeth?

Charcoal toothpaste has been effective at removing surface stains on teeth which may help a smile appear whiter. However, using it doesn’t come without risks. Even though charcoal toothpaste is porous, it’s also fairly abrasive. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), charcoal toothpaste is too abrasive to be used regularly and may result in damage. Using an abrasive toothpaste can wear away the protective layer of enamel, making teeth not only more exposed to the dangers of bacteria, but also creating a dingy, discolored appearance.

Other Ways to Whiten Your Teeth

If you’ve tried charcoal toothpaste and didn’t see the results you were hoping for, or you’re not quite on board with its claims, there are still other safe and effective ways you can whiten your teeth.

  • Try a whitening toothpaste that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance
  • Schedule a professional smile whitening with your dentist in Wicker Park
  • Consider dental veneers to cover up any discoloration or imperfections

As always, our dental office in Wicker Park is happy to answer any questions you may have about the best way to whiten your teeth. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment!  

5 Things You Can Do to Get a Smile You’ll Love

woman hides her smileA little too crooked or a little too gapped… a smidge too yellow or a lot not right… there are plenty of reasons you may be unhappy with your smile. If you’re one of the many people who doesn’t like your smile, you’ve come to the right place. The wide range of cosmetic dentistry options at our dental office in Wicker Park can easily fix some of most common concerns people have about their smiles.

Brighten Your Look With Smile Whitening

The most common thing people dislike about their smiles is the color. The simplest way to get a brighter, whiter smile is through a professional smile whitening treatment. There are plenty of options available, from an in-office treatment to a take-home solution from your dentist, and even over-the-counter products. Make sure you choose a product that’s earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance and talk with your dentist before performing any whitening treatment.

Cover Up Imperfections With Dental Veneers

If you’re someone who is more concerned about chipped, crooked, or deeply discolored teeth, dental veneers may be a better solution for you. These thin pieces of ceramic are adhered to the front of the tooth surface to cover up any imperfection. They’re also custom shaped for each person and tooth to create an incredibly natural appearance.

Orthodontics

An overbite, underbite, or crooked teeth can absolutely cause someone to be unhappy with their smile. But thanks to the many orthodontic options available, a smile doesn’t need to stay that way. Whether it’s traditional braces, clear braces, or plastic aligners, orthodontic treatment is sure to shift a smile into a look you’ll love.

Consider a Smile Makeover for a Brand New Look

When there are several concerns about the way a smile looks, it may be an appropriate time to consider a smile makeover. During a smile makeover, your dentist takes a comprehensive look at all of your smile concerns and develops a custom treatment plan that combines a few cosmetic dentistry procedures. Working closely with a dentist you trust can truly transform your smile into one you’re proud of.

Brush & Floss Regularly

Most importantly, the best thing you can do to get a smile you love is to brush and floss everyday and maintain regular visits with your dentist in Wicker Park. A proper dental hygiene routine can go a long way in keeping your smile bright, white, and healthy.

You don’t need to settle for a smile that doesn’t make you happy. Give our Wicker Park dental office a call to set up a cosmetic dentistry consultation. We have solutions to fit every need and will be happy to work with you in creating a beautiful smile.

Drinking Wine: Good for the Heart, Bad for Teeth?

holiday dinner with wineMost of us have heard that drinking red wine may have heart-healthy benefits. And while there’s still some debate on just how true that is, you may find it surprising that there may just be some oral health benefits to partaking in glass every now and then. Our dental office in Wicker Park explores these potential smile benefits as well as some not-so-good side effects in this week’s blog.

The Good

Studies conducted in several areas throughout the world have suggested a positive link between drinking red wine and a decrease in tooth decay. One of these studies published by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry took bacteria rich biofilm from the mouths of several volunteers, which they then dipped into wine. What they found was that the wine was effective at getting rid of the bacteria. With less bacteria around to weaken enamel and cause decay, one could also assume a lower risk for cavities. However, it might not be all good news.

The Bad

In most of the studies surrounding the positive correlation between red wine and dental health the researchers removed the alcohol content prior to testing. This is important to note since we know alcohol tends to dry out the mouth. A dry mouth has the opposite effect of fighting off decay and actually supports a decay-friendly environment. Red wine also has a tendency to transform teeth from a bright white to a dull or discolored appearance. While that can usually be reversed through whitening or cosmetic dentistry from your dentist in Wicker Park, it’s still a negative in our book. Finally, the acidity of wine can wear down tooth enamel and leave teeth exposed to, you guessed it, decay.

The Final Verdict

We don’t really have a definite conclusion on whether the potential positives of red wine outweigh the negatives. Essentially, more research is needed for us to get on board with supporting the claim that red wine is a good way to fight decay. But in the meantime, we’re not here to tell anyone to stop enjoying their occasional glass of wine, of course. Just enjoy responsibly, keep an eye out for any tooth discoloration, and follow the tips below.

  • Alternate drinking wine with water. If you can, it wouldn’t hurt to rinse your mouth out with water occasionally, too.
  • Hold off on brushing immediately after drinking wine to keep the acid from being spread throughout your entire mouth and all over your teeth.

If you’re a red wine lover and happen to notice some tooth discoloration, call our Wicker Park dental office to schedule a professional whitening or cosmetic dentistry treatment to get your smile back to a vibrant white. Or if you’re just looking for a new place to call your dental home, we’re always welcoming new patients and would love to see you. Schedule a visit with us today!

4 Ways to Beat Bad Breath

kiss under the mistletoeBad breath can be caused by any number of things. But it can be embarrassing, and gum or mints only go so far in covering it up. Instead of masking the issue, our dental office in Wicker Park has a few tips on how to solve the problem once and for all.

The Best Ways to Fix Chronic Bad Breath

Occasional bad breath may be a result of something you ate, such as a super garlicky pasta dish. This type of bad breath is usually short lived and easily fixed by brushing your teeth. However, chronic bad breath, or halitosis, doesn’t disappear no matter how much mouthwash you swish. When this is the case, there are several things you can try to help you freshen up.

  • Back to Basics

The easiest way to start working on beating bad breath is to make sure you’re practicing proper oral hygiene by brushing twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing once a day.

  • Drink More Water

A hydrated mouth is a happy mouth. The more water you drink, the more bacteria is rinsed away before it has a chance to settle in and lead to decay or bad breath.

  • Stop Smoking

Smoker’s breath can linger around long after you put out your cigarette. Smoke particles can hang around in lungs for hours after smoking, and tiny amounts are released every time you exhale… hence the bad breath.

  • Visit Your Dentist in Wicker Park

Twice annual dental visits are the best way to fight off bad breath and keep it away in the first place. Your dental team will deep clean your teeth removing stuck on tartar and freshening your entire mouth. They’ll also be able to notice and treat any other issues that may be contributing to bad breath.

Sometimes Bad Breath is More Than Simply Bad Breath

If you practice good oral hygiene at home, visit your dentist twice a year, drink plenty of water, and don’t smoke, yet you still suffer from chronic bad breath, there’s a possibility it may a sign of a larger problem. Bad breath can be a sign of:

  • Gum Disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Sinus Infection
  • Diabetes
  • Liver or Kidney Problems

If you’re been in the bad breath battle for some time and you’re ready to make a change, we welcome you to contact our Wicker Park dental office to schedule an appointment. We’ll be happy to get you on the right track towards fresher breath.

Be Thankful for a Healthy Mouth

woman expresses thanksThis Thanksgiving, we want to switch it up a bit and challenge all of our patients to think outside of the box when sharing their thanks with friends and family around the dinner table. Everyone gives thanks for friends, family, overall health, and perhaps love. And rightfully so. But at our dental office in Wicker Park we want you to give a few reasons to be thankful for a healthy mouth.

Dental Health & Overall Health Are Linked

We mentioned earlier that many people give thanks for their overall health during Thanksgiving praises of appreciation. But what’s often overlooked is the correlation between oral health and overall health. Poor oral health has been linked to several serious whole-body problems such as heart disease and diabetes. Some serious health problems also first show signs in the mouth. So it’s safe to say the healthier your mouth is, the more likely it is that you’re whole body is healthy, too.   

A Healthy Mouth Lets You Eat All The Food

Turkey, yams, peas, potatoes, pies for days — nearly every table in the country will be overloaded with all kinds of food on Thanksgiving Day. And in order to enjoy every bite of flavor, we need our teeth to be in tip top shape. Healthy teeth that are free of pain-causing cavities or other problems allow us to chew properly and properly digest our food.

Gives Confidence

When our smiles aren’t as white as we’d like or as healthy, they aren’t an accurate representation of who we are. If we aren’t proud of our smiles, we tend to shy away from cameras or laugh or smile with our mouths closed. This can negatively affect your entire mood. However, a bright, white, healthy smile can allow you to laugh and speak freely without worry or embarrassment. Having a brilliant grin boosts confidence and can certainly affect your mood in a positive way. If you aren’t totally happy with your smile, talk to your dentist in Wicker Park about cosmetic dentistry options that can help.

Keeps Breath Kissably Fresh

A healthy smile isn’t just a white smile. A truly healthy smile also keeps breath fresh day in and day out. The best way you can help keep your pearly whites white and your breath smelling good is to brush every morning and every night for at least two minutes, floss every day, and if you use mouthwash, use it sparingly. Many mouthwashes actually only temporarily mask bad breath and end up drying out the mouth, which can make bad breath even worse.

At our Wicker Park dental office, we’re always here to help get and keep our neighbors’ smiles healthy. If you’re in need of a dentist, we welcome you to give us a call.

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