Temporomandibular Disorders

Park Ridge DentistOUR JAWS DO A LOT of work throughout the day, opening and closing over and over so that we can do ordinary things like talk, eat, and yawn. Ideally, all of the anatomy involved functions as it should and we can perform these tasks without trouble, but many people struggle with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders because something has gone wrong.

The Anatomy Of The Temporomandibular Joints

The joints on both sides of our jaw, located between the ear and the cheekbone, consists of three parts: the socket (part of the temporal bone), the ball (the top part of the jawbone), and a small, fibrous disk that acts as a cushion between the two. The ball and socket are covered in cartilage to help keep movement smooth and comfortable.

If the disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment, if the cartilage on the bone is worn away by arthritis, or if there is a traumatic injury to the joint, a TMJ disorder may be the result.

Symptoms Of TMJ Disorders

Common symptoms of a TMJ disorder include:

  • Clicking or popping sounds in the joint when chewing, or a grating sensation
  • Pain or tenderness of the jaw
  • Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
  • Difficult or painful chewing
  • Aching pain around the face
  • Aching pain in and around the ear
  • Difficulty opening or closing the jaw due to locking of the joint

Tips For Relieving TMJ Pain

If you’re dealing with TMJ pain, there are a few things you can do to reduce it on your own:

  • Keep yawning and chewing to a minimum.
  • When possible, avoid extreme jaw movements like from singing or yelling.
  • If you have to yawn, control it by pressing a fist beneath your chin.
  • When resting, hold your teeth slightly apart rather than fully closed. This is the natural resting position for the jaw, even when the lips are closed.
  • Eat soft foods that require little to no chewing.

Treatment For TMJ Disorders

In most cases, TMJ pain is temporary and goes away on its own after a week or two, but not always. If it doesn’t, and especially if it gets worse, then it likely needs treatment, which varies depending on the cause.

These treatments include ice packs, exercise, and moist heat, medication, and splints, but if none of them are enough, then measures like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound treatment, or trigger-point injections may be necessary. If all else fails, jaw surgery may be recommended.

Talk To Us About Your Jaw Pain

If you’ve been experiencing persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw or difficulty opening and closing it completely, give us a call or stop by so that we can look for the cause and get you on the path to being pain-free.

Together, we can defeat TMJ pain!

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.

Nitrous Oxide: Having A Gas At The Dentist

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MOST OF US HAVE at least heard of laughing gas, the whimsically-nicknamed sedation method used by dentists, even if we haven’t had it ourselves. But what exactly is laughing gas, and why is it so closely associated with dentistry?

Nitrous Oxide From Discovery To Dentistry

Laughing gas is a colorless, odorless gas. It consists of two nitrogen atoms and one oxygen atom bonded together. The way it works is not entirely clear, but studies do indicate that it reduces a patient’s perception of pain and increases the release of dopamine.

In 1772, Joseph Priestly first isolated the compound nitrous oxide. It wasn’t until 1799 that Humphry Davy discovered the relaxing, euphoria-inducing effects that earned it the name laughing gas. Several decades later, in the 1860s in Germany, nitrous oxide found its place in dentistry, and we still use it today.

Is Laughing Gas Safe?

The nitrous oxide used in a medical setting is very safe, because exposure is carefully controlled. The masks dentists use to administer the gas first delivers pure oxygen, followed by a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide. The limited exposure produces temporary effects that reduce pain and help the patient relax during a procedure. In rare cases, it may cause side effects like headaches, shivering, sweating, nausea, or fatigue.

Recreational use of nitrous oxide, on the other hand, is no laughing matter because few to none of the factors that make it safe in a medical context are present. The gas is kept cold enough to cause frostbite to the mouth, nose, and throat if inhaled directly, and it is stored at such high pressure that it can damage the lungs. Outside of a medical professional’s hands, laughing gas can also cause asphyxiation because it isn’t properly mixed with oxygen.

Laughing Gas Versus Dental Anxiety

For patients who suffer from dental anxiety, laughing gas can be especially helpful. Foregoing dental treatment because of anxiety and fear will only give the problem time to become worse. Laughing gas is one option to help anxious patients relax and feel comfortable during a dental procedure, or even during a routine dental appointment.

Still Have Questions About Laughing Gas? Just Ask!

If you’d like to know more about the effects of laughing gas and its uses in dentistry, we are happy to answer your questions! Give us a call or schedule an appointment so that we can discuss this and any other dental health concerns you may have.

Our patients’ comfort is one of our highest priorities!

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.

Kids, Teens, And Gum Disease

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YOU MIGHT THINK that gum disease is a dental health problem that only adults have to deal with. Unfortunately, teenagers and children are also at risk of developing gingivitis and more severe forms of periodontal disease.

Causes Of Gum Disease

The causes of gum disease are different for teenagers than for younger children. The flood of hormones from puberty can increase blood flow to the gums, making them more sensitive. This is more of a problem for girls than for boys, but more than half of teens have some form of gum disease.

For younger children, the main cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. When plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth and harden into tartar, the gums become vulnerable to irritation and inflammation.

Signs Parents Can Watch For

Children don’t always recognize when something is wrong, so they may not come to you with a detailed description of their gum disease symptoms. However, because gum disease worsens over time, we shouldn’t wait for them to notice a problem anyway. Here are a few signs of gum disease that you can be on the watch for:

  • constant bad breath that does not improve with brushing and flossing
  • swollen and unusually red gums
  • bleeding gums during brushing or flossing
  • gum recession

Gum Disease Prevention And Treatment

If your child doesn’t have gum disease, wonderful! However, there are still important steps you can take to keep their gums healthy. The most essential is to encourage good dental hygiene habits. Set an example by brushing twice a day and flossing daily, and make sure they’re following that example. Regular dental checkups are also critical for detecting problems early and giving your child professional cleanings to keep their dental health on track.

It is always better to prevent a dental health problem before it can develop, but if your child does have gum disease, you can still fight back by persevering with those good oral hygiene habits and regular dental checkups.

Together, We Can Keep Those Gums Healthy!

Childhood is an important time for oral health, because it’s when we learn the habits that will determine how healthy our teeth and gums will be for the rest of our lives. When parents and dentists work together to give kids a headstart on their oral health, they won’t just help them defeat gum disease; they’ll give them all the tools they need to enjoy lifelong healthy smiles!

We look forward to seeing your child again soon!

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.

The Impact Of Smoking On Oral Health

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YOU’RE PROBABLY FAMILIAR with some of the ways smoking impacts our health, particularly lung cancer. However, that’s not where the damage ends. Smoking can harm every part of the body, including our oral health. And the problems don’t end with stained teeth and bad breath.

Gum Disease

Gum disease begins as an inflammation of the gums, which, if left untreated, can lead to serious damage to the gum tissue, tooth loss, and even bone loss in the jaw. It can also give bacteria access to the bloodstream, risking life-threatening infections. Smoking doubles the risk of developing gum disease by introducing hundreds of toxins into the mouth, and it also makes gum disease harder to treat.

Smoker’s Keratosis

One particularly strange effect smoking can have on oral health is that it can produce white patches on the roof of the mouth. These are stomatitis nicotina, or smoker’s keratosis. The condition is not well understood, but the white patches could be the result of inflammation of the mucous glands in the mouth. It usually isn’t painful, but it can be pre-cancerous.

Oral Cancer

Four out of every five people diagnosed with oral cancer smoke or chew tobacco. Oral cancer is cancer that affects any of the tissues in the mouth and throat. Early symptoms include unusual white patches, persistent sores or pain, difficulty chewing or swallowing, swelling, numbness, and the sensation of having something lodged in the throat. The dentist is the first line of defense against oral cancer, as many of these symptoms can be caught early during a regular dental exam.

Secondhand Smoke

Even people who don’t smoke can still be negatively affected by secondhand smoke. Studies suggest a link between cavities (in both baby teeth and adult teeth) and regular exposure to secondhand smoke. The dangers of secondhand smoke are particularly serious for infants and young children. They include asthma attacks, infections, and even SIDS.

It’s Never Too Late To Quit

Luckily, smoking is a very preventable cause of all these different dental problems. All we have to do is quit smoking or never pick up the habit in the first place. Even those with a long history of smoking can significantly improve their chances of avoiding health complications by quitting, so don’t think there’s nothing you can gain from it!


We’re Waiting To Help You!

There are many resources available for smokers who need help quitting. Some of the best ones are supportive friends, family, and counselors. You can also find a lot of great information on the CDC’s website. We, as your dental health specialists, care deeply about your overall health. If you are a smoker, be sure to schedule regular dental exams, sometimes more than two a year, so that your mouth can stay healthy!

We can’t wait to see you!

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.

Different Types Of Dentures

dentist in park ridgeMANY OF US HAVE TO deal with tooth loss as we get older, whether because of an injury or tooth decay. What can we do when this happens to us? Fortunately, the field of prosthodontics (false teeth) has come a long way, giving us plenty of options for filling those gaps back in.

Dentures Throughout History

The first known dentures were made around 700 BC in northern Italy. These dentures were made from human and animal teeth, and although a set of these dentures would deteriorate quickly, they remained the norm for two and a half millennia. However, the industrial revolution in the 1800s led to a massive increase in the amount of sugar people consumed, and this caused the demand for dentures to increase dramatically, along with a demand for higher quality!

It was around that time that people started trying new materials, such as ivory, which lasted much longer. In fact, hippo and elephant ivory are what George Washington’s dentures were really made of, not wood! Nowadays, false teeth are made of porcelain or acrylic resin, depending on the situation. These are much stronger and more durable materials.

Modern Denture Types

Your individual situation will determine the type of denture that would work best for you. Obviously someone who still has some of their natural teeth won’t use the same type as someone with no natural teeth left. So what are the different types?

  • Full dentures are a complete set of removable false teeth. They can be just the top teeth, just the bottom, or both. These may be made of porcelain, which imitates the look and feel of natural teeth, and they can last from 5-10 years.
  • Partial dentures are for people who still have some healthy natural teeth. The new teeth fill the gaps so the natural teeth don’t start to shift and cause new oral problems. They are often made of acrylic resin, which won’t wear down the natural teeth like porcelain will, but don’t last as long.
  • Fixed dentures, meaning non-removable dentures, come in a few different varieties. There are implants, which are surgically placed into the jaw bone and fuse over time to mimic the old root; bridges, which fill gaps by being cemented to the teeth on either side of the whole; and implant-supported dentures, which use implants as anchors for dentures.

 

Which Dentures Are Right For You?

Figuring out the ideal replacement teeth for you can be tricky, particularly if you’ve never needed them before, but that’s why you have us! Schedule a visit with us as soon as you can so we can talk about what type you need and set up a plan to get you on your way back to a bright, full smile!

As always, thank you for putting your trust in us!

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.

Why Are Dental Sealants Important?

DO YOU SPEND A LOT of time worrying about how to keep your child’s teeth cavity-free? Teaching them to brush and floss are critical steps towards ensuring that they can take good care of their teeth for life. Once those permanent teeth come in, there’s something we can do at the dental practice that will give them even more protection against tooth decay, and that something is applying dental sealants.

Bacteria Versus Your Child’s Teeth

The reason it’s so critical to teach our children good oral health habits at an early age is that 40 percent of children develop cavities by the time they start school because of poor oral hygiene and consuming sugary snacks and drinks. Every human mouth contains numerous species of bacteria that excrete acid onto our teeth when consume sugar, and this acid wears away at our enamel and leads to tooth decay.

Brushing, flossing, and limiting our sugar intake are all important ways we can keep that bacteria in check. But even when we do all of these things, there are crevices in our teeth where bacteria can hide, and these can be difficult to reach with a toothbrush. That’s where sealants come in!

family dentist park ridgeWhat Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are a protective clear plastic layer brushed onto the chewing surfaces of teeth to “seal them off” from plaque and bacteria that would cause cavities to form. Dentists started using sealants in the 1960s, and they’ve been popular ever since.

Typically, sealants are applied to the molars because these teeth are the ones that do the most chewing and have those deep crevices where bacteria can hide. The sealant will fill in and cover any crevices on the tooth to act as a shield from the bacteria. What makes them even better is that the sealant application process is quick and painless!

When Should Your Child Get Sealants?

The best time to bring your child in for dental sealants is around when their adult molars erupt, which is usually at age six. The sooner they sealants are in place, the less opportunity the oral bacteria will have to build up in the crevices of the molars. However, sealants are still beneficial when applied later on. Older children and even adults can get them and have their teeth protected too!

Schedule Your Child’s Next Appointment Today!

Whether your child needs sealants or just a normal twice-yearly dental cleaning, don’t hesitate to schedule their next appointment! And if you have any concerns with the way your child is brushing or with how the food they eat might be affecting their teeth, be sure to let us know so that we can help.

Our top priority is protecting your child’s 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 used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Oral Health Habits To Teach Your Children

family dentist park ridgeRAISING A CHILD IS TOUGH work. There are so many things parents have to teach them so that they can succeed as they grow older. Included on that list are good oral health habits that will enable them to keep their teeth healthy and strong for life!

Build Good Habits Early

For permanent teeth to be healthy and strong it’s crucial to start building good oral health habits at a very young age. These habits include brushing their teeth twice a day for two full minutes, scraping their tongues, and flossing daily. Being consistent with a daily routine will help establish these habits quickly. Besides, you want to keep their baby teeth healthy so that their adult teeth will come in where they should and have a healthy start!

Tactics For Teaching Oral Hygiene

Children love to imitate what their parents do, and they love proving that they are big boys and girls. Aside from letting them watch someone brush their teeth, here are a few other ways to help them form good habits!

  • Get them excited! Talking up good oral health will help them to get excited about starting to brush their own teeth as well as flossing and eating the right foods.
  • Let them choose their own “equipment.” When they choose their own toothbrush, it will them take ownership of their oral health, so encourage them to pick out their favorite one!
  • Use examples! Youtube videos, apps, children’s books, etc. are great examples, other than brushing yourself, to show your child that having good oral health is fun to do!
  • Praise their successes. If they know you’re proud of them for brushing their teeth, they’ll be proud of themselves and be happier to do it. You might even use a reward system until they get in the habit, like a sticker chart to build up to a prize.

Share this video with your children to show them why they should take care of their teeth:

Our Extra Expertise

If your child is still refusing to brush their teeth, or is having a hard time grasping the concept of maintaining good oral health, that’s okay! Every child learns at their own pace. Just be patient and keep trying. You can also come to Davis & Engert Dentistry for help. We can show them examples, talk to them, try to find out why they’re not so interested in brushing, and set up a routine with them! They’ll be tooth-brushing pros before you know it.

We look forward to seeing you again!

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 Garry Wiseman used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Supernumerary Teeth

park ridge dentist MOST PEOPLE WILL develop a total of twenty baby teeth that are gradually replaced by a total of thirty-two adult teeth. Sometimes those teeth don’t all appear, a condition called hypodontia. In even rarer cases, all the normal teeth will be present, plus at least one extra! These extra teeth are supernumerary teeth, and the condition is called hyperdontia.

Why Do Extra Teeth Form?

There are two main competing theories about what causes supernumerary teeth. One possibility is that an individual tooth bud might divide abnormally and result in two teeth instead of one. Another is that extra teeth could result from hyperactivity in the dental lamina (the tissue in our jaws that forms tooth buds). Heredity might also play a role.

Supernumerary teeth can come in various forms. They might be conical (peg-shaped), tuberculate (with multiple cusps), supplemental (duplicates of normal teeth), or odontoma (a mass of dental tissue that doesn’t quite form a tooth).

Who’s Most Likely To Have Them?

Hyperdontia affects far more men than it does women. One study done in southern China showed that only 2.7 percent of children had supernumerary teeth, with a ratio of 6.5 affected boys for every 1 affected girl. They’re also more common in permanent teeth than baby teeth. Several developmental conditions increase the likelihood of having at least one extra tooth, such as cleft lip or palate and Gardner syndrome, but there’s still a lot of debate about what actually causes hyperdontia.

How Do These Teeth Affect Oral Health?

The most obvious effect of a supernumerary tooth is on the appearance of the person’s smile, but not all of the concerns are cosmetic. They often remain impacted in the gum line and can cause crowding and alignment problems for the normal series of teeth, sometimes making it harder for them to erupt. In serious cases, they can cause root resorption in the surrounding teeth.

Treatment For Hyperdontia

Sometimes, an extra tooth won’t cause any problems for the rest of the teeth, in which case it can remain where it is. If it is causing problems, however, the typical treatment is simply to extract the extra tooth or teeth so that the normal teeth will have enough room.

Let Us Take Care Of You

If you or someone you know is experiencing oral health problems because of supernumerary teeth, give us a call! We’ll be happy to take a look and determine whether or not extraction is necessary. In the meantime, keep on brushing and flossing to keep your teeth healthy, no matter how many you have!

Remember to smile! It’s contagious!

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.

Don’t Forget To Clean That Tongue!

park ridge dentistYOU HEAR ALL THE TIME about the importance of brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, and you hear almost as often about the importance of daily flossing. What you probably don’t hear a lot is that, if we want to maintain good oral health and hygiene, it’s also important for us to clean our tongues.

Why Should We Clean Our Tongues?

The tongue is one of the most bacteria-covered spots in our bodies. A tongue doesn’t just have taste buds on it, it also has crevices, elevations, and all sorts of tiny structures that bacteria will hide between unless physically removed. Letting all this bacteria sit and multiply can cause bad breath or halitosis, as well as tooth decay on the inner surfaces of the teeth. This is why it’s so important to regularly clean our tongues — so we can get rid of all the unwanted bacterial buildup!

Another benefit to removing the bacteria from our tongues is that it clears the way for our tastebuds to do their jobs. A bacteria-free tongue can taste food much more effectively, and it makes the first stage of the digestive process more effective too, which means improving our digestive health!

The Right Tools For Tongue-Cleaning

You might think mouthwash or rinsing with water is enough to clean your tongue, but that bacteria is stubborn, and simply swishing liquid in your mouth won’t clean out all those crevices on the tongue’s surface. If you really want to clean out that biofilm of bacteria, the key is to scrape it, preferably with a tongue-scraper. You can find these at the store near the toothbrushes, and you should use one every time you brush your teeth.

A toothbrush can do a decent job of cleaning your tongue if you don’t have a special tongue-scraper, and some toothbrushes even have bumps for tongue-scrubbing built in. After you brush your teeth but before you rinse and spit, take that brush or scraper to your tongue. Start at the back and work your way forward, and make sure to get as much of the surface as you can. It’s quick and easy and will make a major difference!

Tongue Scrapers Go Way Back

How long do you think tongue scrapers have been around? A few decades? Try since ancient times! Tongue-scraping is part of the daily hygiene regimen recommended by Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. Over the centuries, tongue scrapers in different cultures have been made of many different materials, including metals like copper, silver, gold, tin, or brass, as well as ivory, mother-of-pearl, whalebone, and tortoiseshell. These days, they’re most often made of plastic or stainless steel.

Need More Tips On Tongue-Cleaning?

If you have questions about cleaning your tongue or finding the right tongue-scraper, just ask! We are more than happy to help you add this important step to your dental hygiene routine. And don’t forget to keep brushing and flossing and scheduling those regular dental appointments!

Way to be the best patients!

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.

Is Your Child Teething?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA7Cn9E7gREEVERY CHILD GOES through periods of teething, which can be particularly difficult because they are too young to understand it. It can also be hard for parents, but teething is completely normal and we’re here to set our patients at ease about what to expect and how to deal with it.

The Stages Of Teething

The first thing to know about teething is that there are different stages. The first stage is erupting, which is the period when the teeth grow up from the jaw bones towards the surface of the gums. The second stage is cutting, which is when the teeth actually break through the gum line. It’s very common for babies and toddlers to experience pain during these stages, but they can’t communicate this to their parents, so it often manifests as picky eating, tiredness, or even hunger.

Signs And Symptoms Of Teething

A baby’s first teeth usually appear at between 4-6 months, but it isn’t uncommon to see them anywhere between 3-14 months. If your baby’s teeth are taking a little longer to show up, don’t be alarmed. While no two children will go through the exact same thing, here are a few of the most common symptoms:

  • Drooling
  • Irritability
  • Biting, chewing, sucking on everything
  • Refusing to bite, chew, or suck
  • Rejecting foods
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Avoiding breastfeeding

Diarrhea, a fever, and a runny nose are not typically associated with teething. These are more likely symptoms of another problem like a virus. If they persist or worsen, it could be time to visit the pediatrician.

Soothing Your Teething Child

There are few things that can be done to help ease the teething process. First, don’t stop breastfeeding! Breast milk has been known to be one of the best pain remedies for teething. Next, let them chew on things! They need to chew to help the teeth cut through the gums, so chewing, sucking, and biting everything is actually necessary. This is where teething toys can come in.

Good Toys To Consider

Although most teething toys are safe to use, there are a few to steer clear of. Before you buy a teething toy, make sure it doesn’t contain BPA, PVC, or phthalates — chemicals that are used in everyday itemssuch as women’s perfume and lotion to make them last longer, all of which can be harmful if consumed.

It’s also important to keep in mind a few key points when picking toys. Consider what the toy is made out of. Is it solid or does it have a gel filling of some kind (and if so, does it seem sturdy enough not to leak)? Can it be cooled in the fridge? Can it clip onto your child’s clothing? Is it easy for them to hold?

Check out this video for a few more teething tips:

 

 

Come To Us With Your Teething Concerns

If you feel you’ve done all you can to help your child along during their teething process but things still seem to be going awry, you can always bring them to see us! We can check to make sure their teeth are coming in well and that they’re right on track. Just make the call and we’ll be here!

It’s no contest; our patients are the best!

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 mylissa used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.