How to Ease Toothache Pain

woman with toothacheCan you believe that there’s actually a day dedicated to toothaches? It’s true! February 9th is recognized as National Toothache Day, and in honor of this ‘holiday,’ the team at our dental office in Wicker Park is here to celebrate by giving you advice on how to ease toothache pain.

What Causes a Toothache?

There’s no one thing that leads to a toothache, but oftentimes toothaches can be caused by:

  • Erupting teeth (in children)
  • Decay or cavities
  • Chipped tooth
  • Food that’s become wedged deep in between teeth
  • Improper brushing and flossing

The Truth About Toothaches

The truth is, toothaches don’t usually just pop up out of nowhere. They’re typically a sign of an underlying problem. While at-home toothache remedies can provide temporary relief, it’s wise to see your dentist in Wicker Park sooner rather than later. Early intervention will help diagnose any problems quickly and when treatment is usually easier and more successful.

Toothache Remedies

If you’re experiencing a toothache there are things you can do to help ease the pain before your dental visit including:

  • Rinsing with warm salt water
  • Holding an ice pack to your cheek
  • Gently flossing the sore spot
  • Taking over-the-counter pain medicine

Nobody wants to experience a toothache. They’re painful and annoying for anyone, and the discomfort can absolutely affect our quality of life. When and if you get a toothache, treat it gently and with care and schedule a visit to our Wicker Park dental office as soon as you can.

Avoiding Toothaches

The best ways to avoid a toothache in the first place is to make sure you’re brushing and flossing properly every day and getting dental checkups at least every six months. Practicing preventive care can reduce the risk of toothaches and help keep painful problems away.

We’re always welcoming new patients at our dental office and welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today!

What Happens if You Don’t Get Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?

wisdom teeth on x-rayWisdom teeth are often a topic of concern for many patients, and we get asked a lot of questions about these sometimes pesky teeth. How do you know if you need to have your wisdom teeth removed? What happens if you don’t extract wisdom teeth? Does the procedure hurt? We understand that wisdom teeth can be confusing and perhaps even scary, but don’t worry, our dental office in Wicker Park is here to help.

Wisdom teeth are usually first seen on dental x-rays during routine appointments with your dentist in Wicker Park. Typically your dental team can see them before you even know that they’re starting to work their way to surface. This is also when we can most likely tell if they’re going to need to be removed. Most of the time, they will need to come out. In fact, 90% of Americans have their wisdom teeth removed. But what happens if you don’t have your wisdom teeth extracted?

Overcrowding

The top reason why most wisdom teeth need to be removed is that there’s simply not enough room in the mouth for these new teeth. Your dental x-rays will show your dentist whether or not there will be enough space for your wisdom teeth. However, if your mouth doesn’t have adequate room and you do not have your wisdom teeth removed, it can lead to overcrowding, crooked teeth, or even an impaction. Having impacted wisdom teeth essentially means that the teeth are stuck in your bone below the gum line. This can be very painful and increases the risk of infection.

Coming in Sideways

Wisdom teeth also have a funny way of working themselves sideways and start to come through horizontally rather than vertically through the gums. If this occurs, nearby healthy teeth can be seriously damaged and your bite can be affected, causing larger, more serious, and painful problems.

The Dangers of Bacteria

Let’s say your wisdom teeth develop perfectly and there’s room for them in your mouth. While rare, it does happen. If you’re one of the few that can keep their wisdom teeth, problems may still find you in the future. Wisdom teeth are way in the back of the mouth which makes them very difficult to properly care for. If proper oral hygiene isn’t maintained, teeth can decay and the risk for gum disease increases.

Maintaining regular visits to our Wicker Park dental office not only helps protect your existing teeth from decay, but these appointments can also help us identify whether your wisdom teeth should be removed before any problems arise. If your wisdom teeth do need to be removed, don’t worry. The procedure is incredibly common and your dental team will do everything they can to keep you comfortable during and after treatment.

Top Questions About Dental Care

fAQ'sAt our dental office in Wicker Park, we believe in not only caring for our patients’ smiles but also educating them on all things related to dentistry. We’re often asked questions by either our patients or their families, and we always welcome them! Today we’d like to answer some of the questions we hear most often.

Is It Going to Hurt?

We get asked this question about several dental treatments such as fillings, root canals, and cleanings. While each procedure is unique, advancements in dental technology have made many treatments incredibly comfortable. If you’re nervous about anything, talk with your dental team. Ask them what to expect during the procedure and let them know if you start to feel anxious or uncomfortable.

Are Dental X-Rays Dangerous?

Even though dental x-rays require radiation, the risks are minimal. In fact, the amount of radiation used for dental x-rays is super small, and therefore, dental x-rays are super safe. Your dentist in Wicker Park will also take additional precautions to further decrease radiation exposure such as using a leaded apron. The pictures your dental team gets from dental x-rays gives them a unique look into the jaw bone and into the tooth roots. This allows them to see problems before you experience any signs, symptoms, or pain and when treatment is easier and often cheaper.

How Often Should I Have My Teeth Cleaned?

You should get a professional dental cleaning twice a year. However, if you have gum disease or have had it in the past, your dental team may recommend cleanings more often. During these appointments, your hygienist is not only removing plaque and tartar buildup but also taking x-rays, measuring gum pockets, and searching for any signs of decay. Making sure you see your dentist every six months can help diagnose problems while they’re still small and easy to treat.

Do I Really Need to Floss?

Yes! Flossing regularly is just as important as brushing. You should floss once a day, every day to remove food particles, bacteria, and buildup that’s been wedged tightly between each and every tooth. There are many different types of floss out there including traditional floss, floss picks, and water flossers. Find what’s most comfortable for you to use and floss often.

If you have questions about dentistry, we’re here to help! Call our dental office in Wicker Park today to schedule an appointment. We’d be happy to see you!

5 Resolutions You Should Make for a Healthier Mouth

family photoAs we prepare to enter the new year, people all over the world are making resolutions to get healthier. Whether that means going to the gym more often or eating healthier, the team at our Wicker Park dental office wants to get involved by helping you set realistic resolutions. Here are five things you can do that will not only help you reach your goal of getting healthier but can improve your oral health too.

#1 – Stay Hydrated

Choosing to drink more water and staying away from sugary drinks such as soda can benefit your entire body, including your mouth. Water is necessary for proper body function and is a key part of maintaining a healthy smile. Sipping on water throughout the day helps keep the mouth moist so plaque and bacteria don’t settle in and cause problems. This year, commit to drinking the recommended eight, 8-ounce glasses of water daily.

#2 – Kick the Habit

Smoking is one of the leading causes of health problems including heart disease, respiratory problems, and cancer. It’s also a habit that can contribute to several oral health problems such as discolored teeth, gum disease, and oral cancer. Even if smoking is the only resolution you’re making to yourself this year, it’s a great one to stick with. Your mouth and your whole body will thank you.

#3 – Eat More of the Good Stuff

With our busy lives, it can be difficult to fit in a healthy diet. But packing your body full of nutrient-rich foods such as raw fruits and veggies can be great for your health. These foods are loaded with antioxidants that can help fight off dangerous bacteria and lower inflammation. They’re also great for our smiles for the same reasons. Even the texture of some fruits and veggies such as apples or carrots can gently scrub away plaque and help protect teeth.

#4 – Lower Alcohol Intake

With all of the holiday parties and celebrations this time of year, we know reducing your alcohol intake can be difficult. But the benefits of lowering how much alcohol you drink and how often you drink it are plentiful. Limiting your alcohol intake can help with weight loss and improve liver function. It can also help improve oral health; less alcohol in the mouth means more opportunity for saliva production. This saliva is crucial to helping neutralize acid, wash away bacteria, and remove plaque. Without saliva, the mouth is at increased risk for cavities, decay, and other oral health problems. Make a commitment to yourself now to lower how much alcohol you plan to drink in the coming year.

#5 – See Your Dentist in Wicker Park

If you’ve been putting off dental visits in the past, make a resolution to see your dentist at least every six months from now on. These bi-annual checkups not only help catch any problems early when treatment is still easy and less costly, they can also help your dentist diagnose any other potential whole-body problems before they have a chance to affect the rest of the body.

If you’re making new year’s resolutions to get healthier in 2019, don’t forget that your mouth plays a key role in overall health. In fact, poor oral health has been linked to many systemic health problems including heart disease and diabetes. Make a promise to yourself this year and schedule an appointment at our dental office in Wicker Park today.

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.

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