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.

Do Electric Toothbrushes Clean Better Than Regular Toothbrushes?

toothbrushesWith all the hype surrounding electric toothbrushes lately, the team at our dental office in Wicker Park wanted to take the opportunity to talk to our neighbors about what’s true about those claims of a superior clean, as well as provide a few pros and cons to both electric toothbrushes and their manual counterparts. Let’s start with the truth…

Just the Facts

Since electric toothbrushes spin at a rate of about 30,000 strokes per minute it’s easy to believe that they clean better than a manual brushing. But is it true? The answer is a bit complicated.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), both electric and manual toothbrushes do the job of removing plaque and bacteria from teeth. However, reports from the ADA also state that effectiveness is more about the way a person uses their toothbrush than whether or not it’s electric. At the same time, studies conducted by electric toothbrush manufacturers claim that patients who use electric toothbrushes report healthier smiles.

Essentially, when it comes to choosing the right toothbrush for you, you should weigh your options, consider your needs, and examine the pros and cons of each.

Manual Toothbrush Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Budget friendly
  • Easy to take on flights and vacations
  • No charging or changing batteries

Cons

  • No timer to help brush for the recommended two minutes
  • May be difficult for some people to use properly
  • Easy to brush too hard which can cause damage

Electric Toothbrush Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Easier to use, especially for those with dexterity problems
  • Often feature a timer
  • May help following a proper technique easier

Cons

  • More expensive than manual toothbrushes
  • Typically bulky which can make storage or travel difficult
  • Charging required

Overall, you should pick the toothbrush option that fits your needs best. If you’re not sure, talk with your dentist in Wicker Park about what they recommend.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

smiling woman in dental chairAt our dental office in Wicker Park we take our patients’ comfort very seriously and are dedicated to keeping them calm and relaxed at every appointment. However, there are times when the noise of the drill is a bit too much (we get it!), treatment is too long to stay comfortable, or a fear of the dentist causes extreme anxiety. When these situations arise, sedation dentistry may be recommended.

Defining Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry is a common treatment that uses medication to reduce anxiety and help patients relax. While sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” sedation dentistry doesn’t necessarily require a patient to actually be asleep. In fact, depending on the type of sedation, patients are often awake.

Types of Sedation Dentistry

  • Oral Sedation

Achieving a calm, relaxed state with your Wicker Park dentist may be as easy as taking a tiny pill prior to an appointment. This type of sedation is referred to as minimal oral sedation and typically allows patients to stay awake and responsive, just a little bit drowsy. Moderate oral sedation is also an option. Still achieved by taking a pill, moderate sedation is usually a higher dose of the medicine but the effect is a deeper relaxation. Occasionally, patients tend to become so relaxed they may even fall asleep for a short time.  

  • Nitrous Oxide

More commonly referred to as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is another form of sedation dentistry that has only a very short effect on patients. Nitrous oxide is administered in the dental office through a mask and simply relaxes the mind and body. After treatment, patients will be given oxygen to help remove the nitrous oxide quickly without any lingering side effects.

  • Intravenous Sedation (IV Sedation)

IV sedation is the deepest level of sedation that’s often controlled by an anesthesiologist. Medication is delivered into a vein through a needle. This allows the medicine to take effect very quickly and gives the administrator control over the dosage. Following IV sedation, patients may experience nausea, dizziness, or sleepiness for up to 24 hours.  

Safety

The main goal of sedation dentistry is to keep patients comfortable and, most importantly, safe while they get the treatment they need to keep them healthy. Dental offices that offer sedation dentistry have teams who are extensively trained in sedation, follow strict safety precautions, and monitor patients throughout treatment.

If you or a family member has a fear of the dentist or the need for long, complex treatment and think sedation dentistry may help, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at our Wicker Park dental office. At this visit we will discuss all of the options available to you and recommend the best solution based on your individual needs.  

June is Men’s Health Month

men's health monthEvery year during the month of June, healthcare providers across the nation promote the importance of prevention and early detection of diseases that affect American men. Our dental practice in Wicker Park is no different. To do our part, we’re dedicating this blog to educating our patients and community on the unique dental issues that often apply to the male population.

The Dangers of Skipping Dental Checkup

It’s typically recommended that everyone visits their dentist at least twice year for proper preventive care and a deeper cleaning than you can get at home. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, barely 60% of American men between the ages of 18 and 64 went to the dentist in the past year. Skipping regular visits to your dentist in Wicker Park can allow problems to go untreated and lead to bigger, more complicated (and often more expensive) treatment. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry states that it’s all too common for men, in particular, to only go to the dentist when they’re experiencing a problem. Most likely, these problems could have been prevented by keeping bi-annual dental appointments.

Greater Risk of Gum Disease & Oral Cancer

While regular dental appointments can help protect teeth against decay and the need for fillings or more advanced restorative dentistry such as root canals or crowns, they can also diagnose gum disease and oral cancer early when treatment is less invasive and more successful. This is especially important for men since they’re at increased risk for both gum disease and oral cancer. The truth is, oral cancer is twice as common in men than women and, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, 56% of men have gum disease as compared to only 38% of women.

Gum Disease & Men’s Health

Even though oral cancer is certainly scary and serious, gum disease can be quite scary, too. Gum disease can contribute to a host of other problems throughout the body and has been linked to an increased risk in heart disease and certain cancers, as well as prostate health in men. Studies have shown that there is a possible correlation between gum health and prostate health due to something called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). When gums are inflamed because of periodontal disease or the prostate is unhealthy, PSA levels increase. However, PSA levels are substantially higher in those with both a prostate condition as well as gum disease suggesting a connection between the two.

Dry Mouth is More Common, Too

Dry mouth is something that may sound like nothing to worry about, however can contribute it’s own oral health issues. In a healthy mouth, there’s is an abundance of saliva production that helps neutralize acids and wash away harmful bacteria. But someone who suffers from dry mouth doesn’t have the same benefits. This leaves teeth exposed to enamel-eroding acid and decay-causing bacteria.

This month, and every month, we’re here to keep our neighbors healthy. Whether you’re a man who may have been skipping dental visits, or you’re a woman who has men in your life you care about, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at our Wicker Park dental office today.

Thinking About Skipping a Brushing Session? Think Again.

young woman brushes teethAt our dental office in Wicker Park, we always recommend that our patients brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes. Following this routine daily isn’t just good for your oral health, but can benefit your overall health, too. However, if you skip a brushing session altogether or don’t brush thoroughly, your body may be at risk for all sorts of scary problems…

Why Two Minutes?

We aren’t alone in our two minute rule. In fact, the American Dental Association also supports brushing for two minutes every day for good oral and overall health. There’s even plenty of research to back up the claim. According to one study in The Journal of Dental Hygiene, patients who brushed for only 30 seconds removed 55% less plaque than those who committed to the full two minutes. Just imagine what would be left lingering around if you skipped brushing altogether?

What Happens if You Don’t Brush for Two Minutes?

Besides plaque buildup, there are other things in your mouth that can stick around and cause problems if not removed regularly through a proper brushing. For instance, food particles that are left behind can feed bacteria found in the mouth. As this bacteria feeds on these tiny pieces of leftover food, they release acid. Acid will then begin to attack tooth enamel and leave teeth at an increased risk for decay. An overabundance of bacteria can also affect gum health. If not treated, it may cause gum disease.

Why is Gum Disease a Concern?

Gum disease is a serious infection caused by an excess of bacteria. Gum disease affects nearly half of all Americans and can eventually lead to tooth loss. But that’s not all. If gum disease isn’t treated by your dentist in Wicker Park, it can start to put other parts of the body in danger.

  • Heart Health

Numerous studies have found a positive correlation between gum disease and heart disease. In fact, researchers estimate that those who have gum disease are twice as likely to also have heart disease.  

  • Diabetes

People who have diabetes and gum disease are in a unique and dangerous position. Advanced gum disease may cause blood sugar levels to increase, causing diabetic complications.

  • Respiratory Problems

Bronchitis and pneumonia are caused by bacteria that may come from the mouth. So if there’s enough bacteria hanging around to cause gum disease, it can also move throughout the body, into the lungs, and make you sick.

Brushing twice a day for two minutes can help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth and minimize your risk for gum disease and the whole-body concerns that can go with it. In addition to those four minutes of brushing a day, make sure you also visit our Wicker Park dental office twice a year for an even more thorough cleaning that will not only protect your teeth, but also your overall health.

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