Smile To Improve Your Day — And Your Health!

Park Ridge Dentist“IT TAKES MORE MUSCLES to frown than to smile,” the old cliché goes, so you should smile more to conserve energy. Well, it turns out the cliché is false. Smiling takes at least ten muscles, while as few as six are required for a frown. A better expression would be “smile to burn more calories,” but that isn’t the only benefit you’ll get from flashing those pearly whites more often.

The Feedback Loop Between Smiling And Happiness

When we smile, it sets off a chemical reaction in our bodies and brains. We release endorphins, the feel-good hormones. The amazing thing is that we can release these endorphins simply by the act of smiling, even if it’s fake! Smiling and happiness are so closely tied together in our brains that it doesn’t matter which one comes first. If you’re having a rough day and want to feel better, smiling is a great, simple first step to take.

Smile Your Pain And Stress Away

That rush of endorphins has a lot of benefits, and two of the most immediate ones are reducing pain and relieving stress. Endorphins are natural painkillers with no side effects, and they help us recover more quickly from stressful situations. A 2012 experiment demonstrated this by testing how long it took for subjects’ heart rates to return to normal after performing a stressful task. The smiling subjects were the fastest to recover!

Smile To Give Your Immune System A Boost

Over time, those short-term benefits from the endorphins released by smiling can compound into something much bigger. By smiling freely and often, we can make ourselves more resilient against all kinds of illnesses — even lowering our chances of getting cancer by reducing the number of stress-induced mutations our cells go through.

Smile To Live Longer!

When we think of the benefits of smiling, we usually don’t think much farther than how it makes us look younger and more attractive to the people around us, but in the end, smiling can actually add years to our lives. Smile as often as you can so that you can take full advantage of what it can do for you, and make sure you’re taking good care of your smile so that you feel more like sharing it.

Let’s See Those Gorgeous Smiles!

Did you know that children smile an average of twenty times as often as adults over the course of a day? Just imagine the health benefits we could enjoy as adults if we smiled as often as we did when we were little. We encourage all of our patients to find every reason you can to smile, and come see us twice a year so that we can help you keep your smile as healthy as it can be!

Our patients are our biggest reason to smile!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user David Long used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Don’t Take A Vacation From Oral Hygiene!

Park Ridge DentistWITH THE ARRIVAL OF SUMMER comes the season of family vacations and exciting trips to new places. We’re as excited for it as our patients, but before everyone leaves to explore parts unknown, we want to give you a few tips and reminders about taking care of your teeth while you’re away from home.

Before You Go, See The Dentist

The last thing anyone wants while relaxing on a beach or enjoying the rides at a theme park is for their fun to be interrupted by a toothache or dental emergency. Depending where you go on your vacation, it might be hard to get proper dental treatment. You’ll save yourself a major potential hassle by simply scheduling a dental appointment before you leave!

A simple dental checkup will ensure that your teeth are clean and cavity-free when you start your trip. It’s especially important to get any restorations (e.g. crowns and fillings) checked in case they’re becoming loose, and untreated cavities and weakened dental work can become painful due to the pressure changes on flights.

Don’t Get Too Carried Away With Vacation Food

We can probably all agree that the food is often one of the best parts of any vacation, but that can make it easy to overdo it. Try to avoid eating too many sweet treats and snacks, and maybe keep a pack of sugar free gum handy to help prevent cavities.

Don’t Slack On Brushing And Flossing

When we’re at home, it’s easy to go through daily routines like brushing in the morning and brushing and flossing in the evening. Make sure to pack your toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss when you go, and quickly establish these routines in your new location.

One important thing to remember is that bacteria grows fast on a toothbrush that is damp and in an enclosed space, such as in luggage. Give your brush time to dry before you pack it, and store it somewhere it can get plenty of ventilation between uses.

Instead of leaving your toothbrush out on a hotel counter, try a simple solution like this:

Have A Great Vacation!

Following these tips will help you keep your teeth strong and healthy while you’re away from home. That should make it easier to flash a big, bright smile for the camera during your adventures! Have a wonderful time, and we look forward to seeing you again soon!

Thank you for trusting us with your dental health!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Plaque, Tartar, And Your Teeth

Park Ridge DentistPLAQUE AND TARTAR are two words that you probably hear a lot when you come in for a dental cleaning. You might already know that they cause tooth decay and gum disease, but do you know what they are? Let’s take a closer look at these two substances that are a constant threat to our oral health.

Stage 1: Plaque

Dental plaque is a soft, sticky, colorless biofilm composed of bacteria, food particles, and saliva. It builds up on and between our teeth and beneath our gums every day. If you’ve ever forgotten to brush in the morning or at night, you’ve probably felt that unpleasant texture with your tongue.

Plaque contains millions of bacteria, and this bacteria digests leftover sugars and starches from the food we eat, then excretes acid onto our teeth. Because plaque is soft, it can be removed with simple brushing and flossing, but we have to be thorough and diligent to get as much of it as possible.

Stage 2: Tartar

The reason it’s so important to scrub away the plaque is that when plaque is allowed to sit on the teeth too long, it becomes tartar. Tartar is a hard, yellow or brown substance that bonds to tooth enamel and can only be removed at a professional cleaning appointment.

How does this transformation happen? When the acid excreted by oral bacteria comes into contact with minerals in our saliva, it causes a chemical reaction that hardens the plaque into tartar. The risk of tartar buildup is higher for people with braces, dry mouth, crowded teeth, or a smoking habit, and it also increases with age.

Keeping Plaque And Tartar Under Control

A rigorous oral hygiene routine, paired with regular professional cleanings, is the best way to control the plaque in your mouth and prevent it from hardening into tartar. Here are some of the things a good routine should include:

  • Brush twice a day for two minutes, making sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth and paying special attention to the gum line.
  • Floss or use a water flosser daily to clean the plaque and food debris left in those hard-to-reach spots between the teeth.
  • Choose an anti-plaque toothpaste.
  • Consider getting an electric toothbrush for more effective plaque removal, and replace your toothbrush (or the head of your electric toothbrush) regularly.
  • Give oral bacteria less fuel by cutting down on sugary foods and drinks.
  • Avoid smoking, which increases plaque and tartar.
  • Schedule dental cleanings once every six months.

Win The Battle For Your Dental Health

It might seem discouraging to think that plaque will creep back up throughout the day even after you brush and floss thoroughly. A better perspective is that it only takes a few minutes each morning and night to win the daily battle against plaque and tartar, and you can improve the odds for your teeth even more with regular dental visits!

Together, we can keep those teeth plaque and tartar free!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user sittered used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Bad Oral Health Fads

Park Ridge Family Dentist

FADS AREN’T ALWAYS ABOUT hairstyles and slang; they can also be about the way we take care of our bodies, including our teeth. It’s important to be able to tell the difference between something that is popular and something that has the support of the dental health community. That’s why we’re going to take a critical look at a few of the recent oral health fads.

Charcoal Toothpaste

You might’ve seen this seemingly paradoxical product in the store: activated charcoal toothpaste, which will turn your teeth black when you brush but supposedly whiten them in the long run. If you haven’t seen it in the store, you’ve probably seen people using and singing its praises on social media.

The problem with these products and home-made pastes is that there is no scientific support for the claims that they are safe to scrub against our teeth, let alone effective at whitening them. On the contrary, there is actually significant concern that they could do more harm than good. Charcoal is highly abrasive, so it could be eroding away tooth enamel. Loss of enamel exposes the more yellow dentin beneath and leaves the tooth much more vulnerable to decay.

Non-Fluoride Toothpastes

Fluoride is the active ingredient in ADA-approved toothpastes, but in recent years, we’ve seen a lot of claims and conspiracy theories about the evils of fluoride, which have given rise to an array of fluoride-free toothpastes. This mistrust of fluoride is not supported by science, and there is a wealth of scientific data on the oral health benefits of fluoride when used in small amounts.

When fluoride was first added to the public water supply in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it reduced childhood dental caries by a whopping 60 percent, with no adverse effects except for occasional cases of mild fluorosis (harmless white patches on the enamel). Avoiding fluoride won’t do anything except put your teeth at greater risk of cavities.


Bring Us Your Questions About Dental Fads

These are just two of the fads out there. If you encounter another one, make sure you let us know about it before you try it out. We’d love to hear about these trends so that we can offer patients our professional opinions and advice. In the meantime, stick to tried and true dental health practices like brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and scheduling regular checkups!

When it comes to your dental health, always trust the science!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Reasons To Be Thankful For The Dentist

Park Ridge IL dentist

WE’RE ALMOST AT the end of another year, and one of the best parts of the holiday season is getting some time to take stock of all the things we’re grateful for. From our families to our careers, our homes to our country, those lists can be pretty long, and one more great thing to add to your list is your dentist!

We Owe Our Smiles To Our Dentists

You might think it’s silly to include your dentist on the list of things you’re thankful for, but we can give you a few great reasons why they should make the cut. Between their advice on how to take care of our teeth and their treatment of dental problems that arise, dentists do a lot to keep us healthy and happy.

Thanks to dentists, we know…

  • …the right way to brush our teeth. Brushing too little leads to plaque buildup, cavities and gum disease. Brushing too hard contributes to gum recession and strips away enamel. Thanks to our dentists, we know to brush twice a day for two minutes with soft-bristle brushes.
  • …how often to floss. When we don’t floss, plaque can build up between our teeth even when we brush the rest away from the outer surfaces. Daily flossing like the dentist tells us to keeps the in-between spaces just as clean as the rest!
  • …tricks for beating bad breath. While bad breath can have a variety of causes, good habits like daily brushing and flossing, making sure to clean our tongues, and breathing through our noses instead of our mouths can really help!
  • …how important dental check-ups are. One of the best things we can do to keep our teeth and gums healthy is to schedule twice-yearly dental visits. It’s always better (and cheaper) to catch dental problems early on than to suffer through the pain and have to get more intense treatment later on!
  • …what to eat (and avoid) to reduce tooth decay. Cutting down on sugary foods and drinks means giving less food to the bad bacteria in our mouths, which means our teeth and gums are healthier. We can replace them with fruits, vegetables, and sugar-free treats.


And We’re Just As Thankful For Our Patients!

We love helping our patients keep their smiles healthy, which is why we love nothing better than getting to see you when you come in for your appointments. You make our days and our lives brighter! We hope to see your smiling faces again soon!

Make the end of this year wonderful!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Taking Care Of Your Toothbrush

park ridge dentistWE ALL USE TOOTHBRUSHES to take care of our teeth, but what are we doing to take care of our toothbrushes? It’s critical that our toothbrushes remain in good condition so they can do their jobs of keeping our teeth healthy, which is why we’re dedicating a blog post to giving our patients tips on toothbrush care!

Cleaning Your Toothbrush

Running your toothbrush under water and giving it a good shake won’t do much to get rid of all the germs you just brushed off your teeth, especially if you’ve recently battled the flu or a cold. Luckily, there are a few ways to deep-clean your toothbrush. Boiling the bristles for a few minutes will kill any germs on them, as will soaking the toothbrush in mouthwash. You can also sanitize it by placing it in the silverware rack of the dishwasher and running it without detergent.

Toothbrush Storage Dos and Don’ts

Do you store your toothbrush with the bristles on the counter or shelf, in a toothbrush cover, or near your toilet? Don’t! Bacteria needs warmth and moisture to multiply and spread, and flushing your toilet can send microscopic contaminants all over your bathroom. The best way to keep bacteria from growing on your toothbrush is to store it upright somewhere it can air out. It’s also a good idea to keep it well away from your toilet, and always put the lid down before flushing.

When To Replace Your Toothbrush

Getting used to a new toothbrush can feel weird. The bristles don’t feel the same, the shape is different, and the handle isn’t the same in your hand. But if we want our teeth to get the proper cleaning they deserve, this brief transition period is more than worth it.

If the bristles on your brush are getting bent, worn, or frayed, it’s definitely time for a new one — particularly if they’re sticking out the wrong way, because that won’t do your teeth any good! Bristles need to be straight in order to reach all the places they should. Just as important: have they become discolored? You don’t want to brush your teeth with stained, dirty bristles!

Get Creative With Your Old Toothbrush

Old toothbrushes are excellent tools for cleaning hard-to-reach areas in your house, like tile grout and backsplashes. You could boil it to make it soft, then bend it into a colorful bracelet! Toothbrushes also make great paintbrushes.

To make your toothbrush art minty fresh, use toothpaste as your paint!

Need Toothbrush Recommendations?

Looking for a new toothbrush but not sure which one is right for you? Just ask us and we’ll give you a recommendation! Keep up those great brushing habits, and don’t forget to schedule your regular dental appointments!

Thank you for your trust and friendship!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Good Tooth Brushing Technique

dentist in park ridgeBRUSHING OUR TEETH is something we can get so used to doing that we don’t really think about it, but are we doing it the right way? It can be easy to get into some bad tooth-brushing habits, and the result can be that your teeth aren’t getting cleaned properly and you could be doing damage to your gums. So let’s take a moment to go over good brushing technique.

What To Avoid When Brushing Your Teeth

A few of the things we should avoid when we brush our teeth are brushing too hard, only brushing up and down or side-to-side, and always starting in the same place. Brushing too hard can damage our enamel and our gum tissue, which is why we should also avoid hard-bristled brushes.

When we only brush up and down or side-to-side, we tend to miss the spaces between teeth, which allows plaque to build up and leads to tooth decay. Because brushing our teeth is such a routine thing to do, it can be very easy to do it the same way every time, but when we always start brushing in the same place, we tend to pay unequal attention to the first teeth we brush compared to the last. Try mixing things up so that your whole mouth can get the same level of attention!

Brushing Your Teeth The Right Way

The first rule of good brushing is one you’ve likely heard all your life: brush twice a day every day for at least two minutes. Do whatever you need to do to make brushing your teeth an unskippable part of your morning and evening routines. You could even play music so you know how long to keep brushing!

However, brushing isn’t just about quantity; it’s also about quality. For the best cleaning action, hold your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and focus on the gum line. Use gentle circular motions to brush the outsides, insides, and chewing surfaces of every tooth. And don’t forget to brush or scrape your tongue before you’re done! Like daily flossing, tongue-scraping is another crucial step for getting rid of harmful bacteria (and it will help keep your breath fresh!).

Timing is also important. Our teeth often feel unpleasant after a meal, but as much as you want to clean them, make sure you wait at least half an hour after eating before you brush. The acids in our food and produced by oral bacteria soften our enamel right after we eat, and it takes about half an hour for our saliva to restore a neutral pH. If we brush too soon, we can actually brush away some of our enamel!

Your Dentist Is Your Greatest Resource

If you’d like more tips on tooth brushing techniques, just ask us! We can make sure your oral health routine is on track for keeping your teeth healthy for life. And don’t forget that an essential component of having healthy teeth is scheduling regular dental appointments!

Now set that timer and get brushing!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Gloria used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.