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​Can Dental Cosmetic Surgery Fix Overcrowded Teeth?

July 26th, 2018

overcrowded teethIf you think that your teeth have become more crooked over the years, you’re probably not imagining things. Many people with crooked teeth have had their condition progress as they have grown older.

11 years of age is the average cut off time to fix crooked teeth. If not taken care of by the end of childhood, the condition will continue to worsen as time goes by.

Overcrowded teeth can cause many problems. Aside from the obvious aesthetic reasons, they can have a negative impact on your oral health. Food particles can get lodged in between teeth, making them very hard to clean. Over time plaque and gum disease can also develop.

Crowded teeth can also cause:

  • Gum bleeding
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Quicker accumulation of plaque and tartar
  • Poor bite (teeth not aligned properly)
  • Gum disease
  • Cavities

good cosmetic dentist can help fix your overcrowded teeth and prevent any further damage from occurring.

What Causes Teeth to Overcrowd?

Overcrowded teeth are one of the most common cosmetic dental issues. Several things can cause teeth to crowd:

Size Discrepancy – When a child inherits large tooth size from one parent and small jaw size from another, the teeth won’t align properly and have enough room to grow.

Wisdom Teeth – When your wisdom teeth come in, there may not be enough room inside your mouth. Like any unwanted house guest, they will push and shove until they fit themselves into the limited space inside your mouth. This can cause your other teeth to start to grow crooked over time.

Previous Dental Work – If you have had prior dental work performed, then there is a good chance your crowded teeth could be due to a misaligned bite. If the prior dentist overfilled your cavities or misaligned your crown, it can cause teeth to crowd over time. It’s usually slow process, and before you realize it, your teeth are visibly out of alignment.

Bad Habits – Crowded teeth can also be caused by a pacifier or sucking your thumb as a child. The immediate effects won’t be visible until many years down the road.

How to Fix Overcrowded Teeth?

When it comes to overcrowded teeth, each person is different. A consultation with a dentist will need to be made so he can evaluate the extent and severity of the overcrowded teeth.

Based upon the treatment plan he creates, one or more of the following procedures can be performed:

Dental Braces – Braces are a common way of fixing crowded or crooked teeth. While adults can get braces, they're most often worn by children or teens. They can be removable or fixed in place.

Only the dentist can remove fixed braces, and they're supposed to be worn at all times. Removable braces can be taken out of your mouth at-will.

Invisalign – Invisalign is a brand of invisible teeth aligners. They are worn by people who do not like the metal look and feel of traditional metal braces. Invisalign works by putting a serious of clear plastic aligners in your mouth.

They are removable and are meant to be worn for a few weeks. Then the next set of retainers will be put in your mouth. Over time, your teeth will align and straighten.

Dental Veneers – Veneers can also help treat overcrowding issues. They’re usually used on adults and work best in cases of mild-to-moderate overcrowding. Veneers will sometimes be combined with other dental treatments such as braces or Invisalign.

Cosmetic Surgery to Fix Overcrowded Teeth?

Yes, there are many different options available to fix overcrowded teeth. In addition to the three listed above, a cosmetic dentist can also perform:

Dental Implants – Dental implants are one of the best options to fix crooked or misaligned teeth. They are permanent, attractive, and look completely natural. The only drawback for some people is the cost of each implant and the length of time it takes to complete the procedure (6 – 8 months).

The obvious benefit to implants is that once they’re in your mouth, they’re permanent. You don’t have to deal with braces or aligners or veneers. They will be completely straight and natural looking.

Extraction – Tooth extractions are usually performed in conjunction with another cosmetic dental procedure to fix overcrowded teeth. Extractions can be performed under local anesthesia and are a quick way of getting rid of the most prominent crooked teeth in your mouth.

Tooth Reshaping – Sometimes the dentist will suggest that the teeth be reshaped. If they’re too long or too short, they can be reshaped with veneers or a crown. The benefit of these cosmetic solutions is that they will not only make your smile look good but can help prevent further tooth decay.

Cosmetic Dentist in Downtown Chicago

At Water Tower Dental Care, we specialize in helping people fix their smiles with one of several cosmetic dental treatments. If you have crooked or overcrowded teeth, we offer many solutions for all budgets.

Give us a call at (312) 787-2131 or schedule an appointment to learn more about how we can help you regain your smile and confidence!

How Cosmetic Dentistry Can Lengthen Short Teeth​

May 10th, 2018

short teethAre your teeth proportionately-sized when you smile - or do they appear smaller or square? If so, you might have a condition known as “short teeth.” It can be caused by a wide variety of factors such as: excessive wear and tear, genetics, or another condition known as a “gummy smile.”

Whatever the cause, short teeth are aesthetically displeasing to most people. When you smile, the overall length of your teeth appears “off”, which can be the focal point for people who have just met you. We’re going to look at the various causes of short teeth, problems that can arise because of them, and several methods that a good cosmetic dentist can use to fix them.

What Causes Short Teeth?

There are several things that can cause short teeth. Severe wear-and-tear and chipping can occur over an elongated period of time is one of the more common ones. It happens so subtly that it’s oftentimes not noticeable until the tooth goes down to the 50% mark. Generally speaking, older adults tend to be at-risk for short teeth due to wear-and-tear over their lifetimes.

Sometimes the teeth don’t get shorter – the gums get longer. A “gummy smile” is one of many dental conditions that can cause the gums to cover the teeth, thereby making them look shorter than they really are.

Some people are born with shorter looking teeth. The problem with this is that it’s only an issue if it causes other medical or dental issues – or the person deems it to be an aesthetic problem. If someone has short teeth and they’re not experiencing any medical or dental issues and they’re 100% content with the way they look, then it really isn’t a problem.

Other times the diet or lifestyle is to blame. Chemical factors such as acidic damage caused by acidic foods and drinks can wear away at the enamel and teeth. If the patient has a history of drug abuse, that too can cause the teeth to wear down or fall out prematurely.

What sort of problems can arise if left untreated?

Aside from the obvious aesthetic issues, short teeth can lead to several other documented medical conditions such as TMJ tiredness, headaches, and facial pain. This is due to a bad bite characterized by shortened teeth. If left unchecked, the teeth can wear down to the point where the raw nerve is exposed, thereby causing intense pain from toothaches.

For some people, the above symptoms do not manifest themselves in any serious way. However, a bad bite due to short teeth can literally leave a person looking much older than they really are. In worst case scenarios, they may experience premature aging in the soft tissue in their necks and faces which can add 10 years or more to their appearance.

short teeth before after

What Treatments Exist for Short Teeth?

Fortunately, there are several treatments for people who have short teeth. You will first need to visit a qualified cosmetic dentist office such as Water Tower Dental Care. The dentist will look at the cause of your short teeth and make a recommendation based upon what will look best as well as your budget.

Here are a few treatment options that exist for people who have short teeth:

Porcelain Veneers – Veneers are one of the most common procedures that cosmetic dentists use to treat people with short teeth. They’re very easy to maintain and can transform your smile to the way you want it to look. Veneers are custom-made to each tooth and are non-reversible, so make sure to ask the dentist for more information.

Porcelain Crowns – Crowns are another viable option for people who have weak or damaged teeth.

Dental Bonding – In this procedure the dentist applies a composite resin to the front of the tooth prior to hardening it with a curing light. It offers many of the same results as porcelain veneers but is a better option if you have suffered enamel erosion.

Gum Contouring – If excessive gum tissue is the cause of your short teeth then gum contouring can help fix it. There are many ways to go about gum contouring, but most dentists use an advanced laser diode to trim away a very small amount of gum tissue. This will help reveal your teeth and make them look longer than they did prior.

Will Dental Insurance Cover Short Teeth?

Whether or not your dental insurance will cover short teeth will be dependent upon your plan. If you’re getting them fixed strictly for cosmetic reasons, the procedure will probably not be covered. However, if a valid medical reason exists to get the procedure done, then you might be covered.

The best way to find out for sure is to make an appointment with a cosmetic dentist and have them give you a diagnosis and treatment plan. Sometimes the secretary at the front desk will be able to call your insurance company to see if they will cover the treatment plan created by the dentist.

Cosmetic Dentistry in Chicago

If you suffer from short teeth, are experiencing dental issues because of them, or are just not happy with the way they look, give us a call at (312) 787-2131. At Water Tower Dental Care, we specialize in cosmetic dentistry and can help fix your teeth, so you can regain the confidence to smile once again.

​Benefits of Chewing Sugar Free Gum

April 26th, 2018

sugar free gum benefitsTaking care of your teeth is one of the most important things you can do. It prevents tooth decay and other serious issues that can cause tooth loss or lead to other health issues. Most people tend to think that brushing and flossing are the only two ways to take care of their teeth. The reality is that they’re missing a critical 3rd component: watching what you eat.

While it’s well-known that sugar can lead to tooth decay, what most people don’t realize is the amount of sugar that everyday products contain. For example, a “Venti” coffee beverage at a popular coffee chain can contain upwards of 73.8 grams of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends that people limit their sugar into to around 2 tablespoons per day – which equates to around 25 grams of sugar.

This is one of the reasons why doctors recommend people use sugarless chewing gum. In addition to having beneficial effects on your mouth, it’s free from sugar and won’t contribute to tooth decay – in fact, chewing sugarless gum could potentially help prevent tooth decay.

Why Chew Sugarless Gum?

Over the years, doctors and dentists have realized that chewing sugarless gum after a meal has significant benefits such as:

Reduces bacteria

A recent clinical study has shown that chewing sugarless gum for at least 20 minutes after a meal can significantly help prevent tooth decay. The 2015 study was published in the PLoS ONE journal and found that up to 200 million bacteria can be removed from the mouth by chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating. Most of the bacteria are caught up inside the gum and completely removed when you spit it out.

Reduces dry mouth

Dry mouth is a medical condition where your mouth feels like it’s completely dry and no matter what you do, you can’t seem to quench it. The condition occurs from a lack of saliva and is caused by several unrelated diseases and/or medications. A great way to treat dry mouth is to chew sugarless gum. When you chew your brain signals your mouth to start producing more saliva. Viola! Dry mouth gone, and you get fresh breath as a nice little side effect.

Cavity Prevention

As stated in the previous paragraph, chewing gum can increase the flow of saliva in your mouth. As you chew, your saliva is swished around and helps neutralize and wash away bad acids that are produced by the bacteria on your teeth. The acid is very harmful and breaks down tooth enamel over time which leads to tooth decay. Saliva itself contains calcium and phosphate and those two minerals can help strengthen tooth enamel.

Chewing sugar free gum increases salivary flow, which can help wash away or neutralize acids that occur when food is broken down by bacteria in plaque on teeth. This helps keep teeth strong and limits decay, reducing the risk for cavities.

Reduce Tooth Sensitivity

If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, or your tooth sensitivity is caused by over-using whitening treatments, chewing sugarless gum can help reduce the pain. The increased saliva flow helps neutralize the sensitivity for immediate relief.

Strengthen Enamel

Most sugar free gum contains an ingredient called Xylitol. It is responsible for the sweet taste of the gum. It also helps reduce the acids on your teeth that accumulate after you consume drinks or food. The acid reduction properties of Xylitol helps keep tooth enamel strong in conjunction with the phosphate and calcium that’s contained in your saliva.

No More Brushing or Flossing?

It should be noted that while chewing sugar free gum is good for dental health, it cannot replace brushing and flossing. The benefits you get from chewing a stick of gum aren’t as strong as the ones you get from brushing and flossing your teeth.

What Kind of Sugarless Gum to Buy?

At Water Tower Dental Care, our dentists can make specific brand name recommendations that will best suit your needs. If you don’t have a dental appointment scheduled with us for a while, look for gum that contains the American Dental Association (ADA) seal. This means that the gum product has been scientifically evaluated for efficacy and safety by scientific experts who work for the ADA.

The ADA seal means that the gum meets such requirements as:

  • Promotes remineralization of tooth enamel
  • Reducing plaque acids
  • Reducing cavities
  • Reducing gingivitis
  • It won’t harm or damage oral tissues

If you’d like to learn more about good oral hygiene habits or have a question about sugarless gum that wasn’t answered in this article, schedule an appointment or give us a call. At Water Tower Dental Care, we’re here to help improve your dental health and give you a smile that looks like a million bucks!

​How to Fix a Gummy Smile

March 8th, 2018

fix gummy smileYour teeth and your smile are one of the first things that people notice about you. For people who have gummy smiles, first encounters can make the, feel self-conscious or downright embarrassed to smile. In this age of selfies, Instagram, and Facebook, those people who have gummy smiles tend to avoid taking photos altogether or find themselves having to feign a smile – which can often lead to an insincere look on their face.

In the past, the only way to fix a gummy smile was to undergo complicated and expensive surgery to remove excess gum tissue. Fortunately, there are many modern-day alternatives that don’t require going under the knife. We’re going to look at what a gummy smile is as well as several surgical and non-surgical options that are available.

What is a Gummy Smile?

gummy smile is more of a general term used to describe excessive gum tissue that shows prominently when people smile. There isn’t a set definition as to what exactly constitutes a gummy smile. It’s all based on aesthetics and perception. What may be considered excessive to one person, might be completely normal to another.

Being that a gummy smile is a subjective matter, dentists have tried to determine what levels of gum tissue shown when smiling could constitute the condition. Several studies have been performed and the dental and medical communities agree that smiles are considered attractive when 2mm or less of gum tissue is showing. If more than 3mm of gum tissue starts to show when someone smiles, it’s considered a gummy smile.

Gummy smiles are not a medical condition as such. They are perfectly normal and due entirely to genetics. Around 14% of women and 7% of men are thought to have excessive gum tissue.

Modern society and the advent of social media has caused an explosion in gummy smile treatments world-wide. Wanting to increase their self confidence and look their best, many people are turning to dentists to help alleviate the excessive gum tissue on their upper jaw.

4 ways to fix a gummy smile

There are several surgical and non-surgical options for those who have a gummy smile. There are varying degrees of a gummy smile that range from mild to excessive. Those who suffer from a mild gingival display can see a dramatic improvement with the non-surgical options. However, if the gingival case is more severe, then surgery might be the only option. Being that a gummy smile is not a medical condition – only a cosmetic one – there are very few insurance policies that will cover the cost of a cosmetic procedure.

Lip repositioning surgery – This process involves restricting the movement of the upper lip by cutting into it, removing a strip of tissue, then suturing it shut into a more desirable, aesthetically pleasing position. The surgery is performed under local anesthesia and usually lasts 30-45 minutes. The benefits are seen immediately, and recovery is usually mild. There could be some swelling and/or bruising but that will dissipate as time goes by.

Veneers – In this procedure, a mold is taken of your teeth and sent off to a laboratory. A few weeks later and your dentist will receive the veneers and apply them to your teeth. The dentist will shape and re-position them in order to create the perfect smile and lessen the appearance of the gums. It’s important to choose your dentist carefully as veneers require a certain level of artistry.

Botox – Botox is injected above the upper lip which prevents it from lifting up when smiling. The procedure is safe, quick, and the patient can return to normal everyday activities after it has been performed. The only downside to using Botox is that it is not permanent and will need to be repeated every six months or so.

Laser or scalpel gum gingivectomy – In this procedure, a laser or scalpel is used to trim excessive gum tissue. It sounds more painful than it really is. Local anesthetic is used, and the patient can return to normal everyday activities when they leave the dental office. There is a slight chance that the gum tissue will grow back in a few months and the procedure will need to be repeated again. This is usually due to too much bone being underneath the gums of some patients.

Fix Your Gummy Smile on the Magnificent Mile

A gummy smile is directly caused by the jaws, lips, teeth, or gums. These four components are responsible for the aesthetics of your smile. When the positioning or proportions of anyone of these are off, excessive gum tissue is usually the result.

If you feel that your smile is showing a bit too much gum tissue, give us a call or schedule an appointment. At Water Tower Dental Care, we’ve helped many people with gummy smiles regain their confidence and ability to smile!

​When Do Children Lose Their Teeth?

March 1st, 2018

children lose teethThink back to when you lost your first tooth as a child. If you were like most kids, you were super excited that the Tooth Fairy would leave you a few dollars under your pillow. The years flew by and now you find yourself asking the same questions that your parents probably did.

When will my child’s first tooth fall out?

Is there a predictable order in which they fall out?

Being the good parent that you are, it’s natural to be concerned about such a pivotal time in the life of your child. After all, teeth are one of the most important body parts and they play a key role in eating, speech, and even self-confidence.

We have compiled this guide to help answer the various questions you might have regarding the adult teeth of your child coming in.

Why Does Your Child Have Baby Teeth?

On the surface, it seems rather pointless for children to have a baby set of teeth come in, only to wind up losing them a few years later. Baby teeth play a vital role in the development of the mouth and jaw. The muscles and jaw bone require baby teeth for proper spacing.

Baby teeth also act as a guide for permanent teeth. The permanent teeth grow up through the roots of the baby teeth. They also help with speech development and assist a child when its learning to chew.

When Will Your Child Lose Their First Tooth?

Most children will lose their first baby tooth anywhere from four to seven years of age. If their teeth start to become wiggly prior to four years of age, that is slightly earlier than the norm. Check to see if there has been some trauma such as a fall or other object that could have made the tooth wiggly. As long as there is no sign of tooth decay, then there really isn’t a reason for concern.

Girls tend to get and lose their teeth earlier than boys do. Doctors aren’t quite sure why this happens, but it’s thought that it’s due to girls developing faster than boys. If your child has Down syndrome, then you can expect them to lose their baby teeth a little later in life than other children.

In What Order Are Baby Teeth Lost?

A little-known fact about baby teeth is that they’re usually lost in the same exact order that they originally came in. Generally speaking, the bottom two front teeth are the first to be lost. They’re closely followed by the top two front teeth.

Next up are the bottom two lateral incisors, the teeth on either side of the incisors. Last to go are the top two lateral incisors. These eight teeth are usually lost by age 7. The remainder of the baby teeth don’t fall out until age 10 to 12. At age 12, the 12-year molars start to come in.

An interesting fact about permanent teeth is that they will dissolve and reabsorb the roots of the baby teeth. This is why your child usually feels little to no pain or bleeding when their teeth fall out. It’s important that you don’t try to force your child’s baby teeth to come out. Let it happen naturally.

How Should You Prepare Your Child?

The first thing you should do is let your child know that it is perfectly normal to lose teeth at their age. When their first tooth is ready to fall out, it will become very wiggly. While it is ok if they wiggle the tooth (and it could help loosen it up a bit), they should not attempt to force or pull it out. Oftentimes, baby teeth will fall out when your child is routinely brushing their teeth.

Adult teeth are not as white as baby teeth, so you shouldn’t worry if the new teeth coming in don't appear as bright. Their new adult teeth will also have ridges on the biting edges for a while until they get worn down a bit by normal chewing.

Potential Complications

If your child has a loose tooth that refuses to come out, it may need to be pulled by a dentist. Situations like this are somewhat rare, but are nothing to get worried about. Make an appointment with your dentist and they will help extract the stubborn tooth, oftentimes without any pain or bleeding at all.

In other rare cases, sometimes the new teeth will erupt and come in before the old ones are lost. This is completely normal and often referred to as “shark’s teeth” due to the way a shark will lose and gain new teeth.

Pediatric Dentist in the Miracle Mile

If your child has just started losing their teeth, or you have any questions regarding their new adult teeth, call us at (312) 787-2131 or schedule an appointment online. At Water Tower Dental Care, our gentle and compassionate dentists can help keep your child’s new adult teeth healthy and pearly white!

​What is a Gummy Smile?

February 15th, 2018

gummy smileA “gummy smile” is when a person’s upper gums are very prominently shown when they smile. It is usually characterized by the upper teeth appearing too short, or the upper gums appearing to be too long. This harmless condition is highly subjective – and entirely dependent upon what the person feels is aesthetically pleasing.

Dentists and plastic surgeons estimate that around 7 percent of men and 14 percent of women have a “excessive gingival displays” which is the medical term for a gummy smile. Some dentists estimate that figure is much higher, as many people don’t seek treatment for what others would consider to be a gummy smile.

What Causes a Gummy Smile?

Genetics are the controlling factor for gummy smiles. The most common reasons are excessive gum tissue, small teeth, or a short upper lip. Teeth that are the proper length can appear short due to excessive gum tissue.

There could also be an issue with the movement of the upper lip where it becomes hyperactive and rises up higher than normal. When this happens, more gum tissue is exposed when a person smiles. The development of the jaw bone could also cause the appearance of a gummy smile. If the jaw has an excessive protrusion within the gum tissue, it could cause the gums to appear more prominently when smiling.

What is a “normal” smile?

There really is no such thing as a “normal smile.” As long as a person’s smile is not causing medical issues, it is entirely subjective as to what is and what isn’t attractive. In trying to understand what a cross-section of society views as a “normal smile,” a study was performed wherein plastic surgeons, dermatologists, and dentists were asked what they consider to be normal.

The vast majority of participants stated that they considered a normal smile to show no more than 2mm of gum tissue. When the size of the gum tissue reached 3-4mm, people started to take notice and anything higher than 4mm stood out as being a smile that shows too much gum tissue.

When it comes to describing a person’s smile, dentists and plastic surgeons often refer to the “smile line” which is how many teeth are showing when a person smiles. The smile line takes into consideration the individual facial muscles of a person, shape and size of their lips, shape and size of the teeth, as well as the gum tissue. Anyone of these body parts can contribute in part or whole to a gummy smile. Dentists and plastic surgeons suggest that the optimal smile line appearance should reveal the least amount of gum tissue possible.

gummy smile before after

Treatment Options

There are many treatment options available for those who wish to correct their gummy smile. They range from minimally invasive, all the way up to major surgery. They kind of procedure a person will need to correct their gummy smile can only be determined by a qualified dentist.

In the past, the only option to treat a gummy smile was invasive surgery in which the gums were sliced open with a scalpel and that lead to massive bleeding and a long recovery. Fortunately, medical science has advanced to the point where there are several non-invasive treatment options available.

Laser Treatments – A laser gum contouring procedure can help sculpt the gums of a patient to make them less prominent. The procedure can be performed in an out-patient setting and the patient can return to normal activities after leaving the office.

Botox – In recent years, dentists have been successfully using Botox to help dramatically lessen the appearance of a gummy smile. It is injected into the upper lip “elevator” muscles, which in turn prevents the gums from showing. The only downside to Botox is that it must be administered every 3 – 4 months, otherwise the gummy smile will appear as prominent as it did before.

Orthodontics – In other situations where Botox and laser treatments might not be as effective, orthodontics (braces) can be used to move the teeth into positions where the gums won’t be showing when the patient smiles.

Surgery – In more extreme cases, surgery is the only option. There are many surgical procedures a dentist could perform. Maxillofacial surgery will help reposition the bone and surgical sculpting of the gingival tissues or lip repositioning can permanently fix a gummy smile.

Gummy Smile Treatments in Chicago

If you feel that too much gum tissue is showing when you smile, give us a call at (312) 787-2131. At Water Tower Dental Care, we specialize in the treatment of gummy smiles and offer a wide range of treatment options. Schedule an appointment to learn more about the options available to help treat your gums so that you can once again smile with confidence!

​What Happens When You Crack a Tooth?

February 1st, 2018

cracked toothCracked or chipped teeth often happen when you least expect it. Whether it’s due to falling, being hit in the face, or biting down on something hard, some people tend to worry that a chipped tooth can’t be fixed. Thankfully, modern dentistry has come a long way over the years and there are several ways a dentist can repair a chipped or broken tooth.

Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth

Oftentimes there will be no symptoms that your tooth has been chipped or cracked. If the tooth breaks off while you are eating food, there is also a possibility that you could swallow it without even realizing it. Other times, the crack may be microscopic and only an X-ray would be able to tell it’s present.

There are several symptoms that could indicate a cracked tooth:

  • Dental pain that has no obvious cause
  • Difficulty pinpointing the exact location of the dental pain
  • Warm/cold food sensitivity
  • Unexplained pain when eating
  • Swelling of the gums around the cracked tooth

How Do Chipped Teeth Happen?

Tooth enamel is one of the strongest tissues in the human body – yet teeth can easily be cracked due one of several reasons:

  • Slip and fall
  • Getting struck in the face
  • Tooth decay
  • Biting down on something hard like ice or candy

It doesn’t take much for teeth to get chipped if they suffer from tooth decay. Even biting down on something as soft as a bread sandwich can cause a decayed tooth to suddenly break or chip off.

Fortunately, your teeth are biodegradable and if you accidentally swallow a piece of chipped tooth, it will most likely pass right through your system. However, in some instances it might be best to seek the advice of a doctor if the chipped tooth doesn’t pass or you notice other health irregularities in the following hours and days.

What Can Happen Because of a Cracked Tooth?

Different people have different reactions to cracked teeth. For some it is merely a cosmetic issue and a quick trip to the dentist can make it look like it never happened. For others, a cracked tooth is a sign of tooth decay or disease and if left untreated could result in the loss of the tooth.

If the cracked tooth is severe enough, you can accidentally cut the inside of your mouth on the jagged edges. The remnants of the jagged tooth will brush up against your tongue or cheeks and bleeding is very possible. If the crack is left untreated it could allow bacteria to enter into the tooth and cause a painful infection.

At the first sign of a cracked tooth or dental pain, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a dentist. They can not only repair the cracked tooth, but recommend a treatment course that could save it from having to be extracted.

How a Dentist Can Repair a Crack

There are a wide variety of options available that can treat or fix a chipped or cracked tooth. These options vary in price as well as the amount of dental work that’s needed to be performed.

Bonding

Dental bonding is most often used when the chip is purely cosmetic. It can last upwards of 10 years and general anesthesia is not required unless the bonding is being used for cavities.

The dentist will roughen up the tooth a bit and apply a conditioning liquid. Putty is then applied, molded, and smoothed. An ultraviolet light is then used to cure the composite. After the bonding has dried, it will be polished and shaped to match the look and color of the other teeth.

Veneers

Veneers will cover the front of the chipped tooth. They are bonded to the front of the tooth in order to completely chance the appearance. Veneers can last upwards of 30 years if taken care of properly.

Getting veneers is a multi-stage process. Your teeth will need to be prepped and impressions will be taken. You will be given a temporary set of veneers to wear while the laboratory creates your permanent ones. At a later dental appointment, the dentist will apply the veneers by bonding them to the front of the tooth or teeth.

Crowns

Crowns are another restorative treatment option. If your tooth is severely chipped, or you experience pain when drinking or eating, a crown is an ideal solution.

The crown is a cap that covers the broken tooth completely. It looks, feels, and works just like any other tooth in your mouth. The crown acts as a shield in that it protects you from losing the tooth. Crowns are intended to be permanent and are cemented directly onto the broken tooth.

Root Canal

Root canals are intended for cracks in teeth that extend into the dental pulp. Sometimes a crown is placed on the tooth after the root canal to prevent the crack from spreading further.

A root canal involves the dentist removed decayed tooth matter and removing the nerve of the tooth. Root canals often get a bad rap as something very painful – but if performed correctly, there is little to no pain. A root canal can ultimately save the tooth from having to be extracted.

Chipped or Cracked Teeth Repair in Chicago

If you have had a tooth crack or chip or you’re experiencing dental pain, schedule an appointment or give us a call at (312) 787-2131. At Water Tower Dental Care, we’re experts in fixing cracked or chipped teeth. We can help stop the pain and get your chipped teeth fixed so that they look perfectly normal again!

​The Abrasiveness of Toothpastes

December 21st, 2017

toothpaste abrasivenessDid you know that toothpaste has a secret measurement that’s usually not listed anywhere on the label or product?

This measurement is called the “relative dentin abrasivity”, or RDA for short. The RDA measures how abrasive toothpaste is on your teeth. Yes, there are some brands of toothpaste on the market that can be bad for your teeth if used on a regular basis.

The Food and Drug Administration requires all toothpaste companies to regularly measure the RDA of their product and disclose that measurement to the FDA prior to gaining approval. However, the law does not require the toothpaste companies to disclose how abrasive their product is on the label, packaging, or product itself.

This can be potentially harmful to certain groups of people. Scientific studies have shown that eroded tooth enamel is highly susceptible to abrasion. Over time the wear and tear caused by abrasive toothpaste on people with eroded tooth enamel can lead to negative consequences with regards to sensitivity, functionality, and even the overall aesthetics.

Toothpaste Ingredients

The various ingredients in toothpaste have a specific job to perform. While overall totals vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer, here is a general breakdown of ingredients, total percentage, and their purpose:

Abrasives – Abrasives are required by toothpaste because they help remove stains and debris from teeth. Aluminum oxide, calcium pyrophosphate, and even silica are all used as abrasives. The make up 20-40% of overall toothpaste ingredients.

Binders – Binders are used to provide shape and consistency to the toothpaste as it is squeezed out of the tube. Polymers such as carboxymethyl cellulose, alginate, and gums are used. Binders comprise around 2% of toothpaste ingredients.

Humectants – These prevent loss of water and hardening of the toothpaste when exposed to air. Glycerine, sorbitol, and polyethylene are just a few of the ingredients that toothpaste humectants can contain. They make up anywhere from 20-40% of toothpaste.

RDA

The American Dental Association (ADA) has come out with guidelines for toothpastes that contain the ADA Seal of Acceptance, which is a designation awarded to products that the ADA determines as beneficial to overall dental health.

For example, before the ADA will give out a Seal of Acceptance, the toothpaste must contain fluoride. It cannot contain flavoring agents which contribute to or cause tooth decay. Scientific evidence must be provided that demonstrates the safety and efficacy of the product.

The ADA also has guidelines for the Relative Dentin Abrasivity of a toothpaste. They recognize that the dentin that lies beneath tooth enamel can be exposed. If an abrasive enough toothpaste is used, it can cause further harm to the dentin. The RDA is a scale that goes from 0 – 250.

RDA Table for Toothpaste

0 – 70 Low abrasive
70 – 100 Medium abrasive
100 – 150 Highly abrasive
150 – 250 Harmful limit

The lower the RDA number on the above chart, the less likely the product will cause wear and tear on your tooth enamel/dentin. Low abrasivity means a safer toothpaste to use.

Back in the early 1900’s, there were no RDA recommendations. No standards or FDA rules existed. Major toothpaste manufacturers regularly used beach sand and ground up cuttlefish bones to increase the cleaning power of their products – or so they thought. If compared to today’s standards, the toothpaste of the early 1900’s would have an abrasiveness index of around 1,000 to 2,000!

Brands of Toothpaste and Abrasiveness

While we can’t list every single brand of toothpaste on the market (we’d need 2-3 blog posts to do that), here is a list of toothpastes currently on the market to give you a general idea of how abrasive your preferred brand may be:

Name Brand RDA

Toothbrush with tap water None 4
Baking Soda None 7
Dental Care Arm & Hammer 35
Cavity Protection Colgate 70
Advance White Arm & Hammer 106
Extra Whitening Crest 130
None Pepsodent 150
Advance Whitening Colgate 200

What Abrasiveness is Recommended?

This subject is currently under debate by scientists and dentists alike. Some say that an RDA of 250 is no worse than an RDA of 50. Other dentists recommend anything under a 75 rating. For those people who have worn tooth enamel or gingival recession, it’s best to try to stay under a 70 rating. If you’re unsure, ask your dentist for his/her recommendation based upon your oral health requirements.

Research has shown that 50% of abrasion occurs within the first 20 seconds of brushing. This means the teeth that you first start brushing will bear the biggest brunt of the abrasiveness.

Dental Care in Downtown Chicago

If you have any questions about toothpaste that weren’t answered in this blog post, give Water Tower Dental Care a call to schedule a consultation (312) 787-2131. If you haven’t had your teeth cleaned in over a year, come see us as soon as possible. Regular teeth cleanings are essential for good oral health and can prevent complications from arising down the road.

​Chicago Food Festivals 2017 - Summer's Not Over

August 10th, 2017

chicago food festivals summer 2017With summer in full swing here in Chicago, the weather is heating up and the crowds are heading outdoors. There’s a lot going on in August, from lazy beach days to outdoor concerts, and food. Lots and lots of food. There’s only 3 more weeks left in August, and the food/street festival season is only getting warmed up. Here are our favorite picks for food/street festivals for the remainder of 2017:

Chicago Hot Dog Fest

Date: August 11th-13th

Location: Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark St.), Chicago

The Chicago History Museum is sponsoring the 4th annual Chicago Hot Dog Fest. Celebrating all things hot dog, this food extravaganza will feature kid’s activities, a music stage and an area with multiple vendors selling their specialty frankfurters.

Taylor Street Festa Italiana

Date: August 18th-20th

Location: Taylor St. & Ashland Ave., Chicago

The Taylor Street Festa Italiana will bring out the inner Italian in you. Meatballs, pasta and dolce vita are on the menu at the 11th annual street fest celebrating all things Italian. Food will be served by long time family-owned Italian restaurants along with up-and-coming chefs. There will be meatball and cannoli eating contest along with Italian card games and maybe even a game of bocce ball with the old timers.

Lincoln Square Greek Fest

Date: August 18th-20th

Location: St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 2727 W. Winona

In a prior life this festival was known as St. Demetrios Greek Fest. For 68 recurring years, the Greek Fest has been serving up Greek food and hospitality for all in attendance. There will be Greek music, Greek dishes prepared by parishioners, dancing and an entertainment stage.

A beer/wine garden will be opened for adults while the kids can play on the inflatable bouncy castles and kiddie rides. There will be food and pastries served and

Taste of Greektown

Date: August 25th-27th

Location: 400 S. Halsted St., Chicago

If the Lincoln Square Greek Fest only whetted your appetite for all things Greek, then the Taste of Greektown should quench your thirst. You’ll find Hellenic foods from various Greek neighborhood eateries along with dancing, live music and family-friendly games. Located in the middle of Chicago’s Greek community, the Taste of Greektown is a long running tradition and is highly acclaimed by local residents.

Great American Lobster Fest

Date: September 1st-3rd

Location: Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.), Chicago

Billed as the Midwest’s largest seafood festival, the Great American Lobster Fest is in its 3rd year. Live music, family-friendly activities, arts-and-crafts booths offer something for everyone. Of course, fresh lobster will be flown in from the east coast. The festival is being held on Labor Day Weekend and will be capped off with a firework show on Navy Pier.

Chicago Bourbon & Barbeque Fest

Date: September 9th-10th

Location: 2800 N. Clybourn Ave.

One of the newer street festivals around, the Chicago Bourbon & Barbecue Fest features barrel-aged bourbon whiskeys and some of the best BBQ in town.

Shock Top Oyster Fest

Date: September 2017

Location: 200 W. Roscoe, Chicago

Fresh seafood and oysters are on the menu for this critically acclaimed festival put on by Shock Top.

Sam Adams Lakeview Taco Fest

Date: September 16th-17th

Location: Southport Ave. & Addison St.

Now it its 4th year, the Sam Adams Lakeview Taco Fest is devoted to the love of all things taco (and Sam Adams beer). Almost any conceivable combination of tacos will be featured and consumed at this 2 day festival. Beer tasting and Mexican wrestlers will entertain the crowds and you can even text vote for Chicago’s “Best Taco”.

Oktoberfest Chicago

Date: September 29th-October 1st

Location: Southport Ave. & Lincoln Ave.

Prost! What better way to celebrate the start of fall by attending one of the most popular festivals in Chicago? Oktoberfest Chicago at St. Alphonsus is in its 15th year and will be held outside the church in the West Lakeview neighborhood. Brats, Bier und pretzels will be served.

Shaw's Oyster Fest

Date: September 30th

Location: Rush St. & Hubbard St., Chicago

This one-day oyster festival returns to Chicago on September 30th. Last year over 3,000 people came to the fest and gobbled up such seafood delicacies as clam chowder, lobster rolls and fish tacos. Live music will be held along with a Midwest craft beer section at Shaw’s Oyster Fest.

Ginza Holiday Festival

Date: August 11th-13th

Location: Midwest Buddhist Temple (435 W. Menomonee St.), Chicago

If you’re like most people, you get an occasional craving for good Japanese food, culture and music. The Ginza Holiday Festival delivers on all 3 fronts. From martial arts demonstrations to Minyo folk dances, this festival celebrates all things Japanese.

Chicago Hot Sauce Fest

Date: August 29th-30th

Location: W. Belmont Ave. and N. Elston Ave., Chicago

This festival is not for the faint of heart, or for those who have sensitive palates. The Chicago Hot Sauce Fest features some of the hottest flavors out there, including some newcomers. If you think you can handle the heat, head on down to the kitchen!

Chicago Food Festivals

Chicago is famous for our summer festivals and street fairs. Delight and tantalize your taste buds with some of the best food, flavors and cultures that Chicago has to offer. Now is the best time to get out and enjoy the sun and weather before winter starts setting in again and we all become hermit crabs for a few more months.

​Skip The Soda! 7 Safe Beverages For Your Teeth

July 20th, 2017

soda alternativesIt seems that no matter how much information we have about how food and beverages impact our health, we continue to ignore the information and make up our own minds about what we choose to believe based on how it fits into our lifestyles. Take soda, for example. There is a lot of research that points to the fact that drinking soda on a regular basis, or even once in a while, can have a lasting impact on your overall health, not to mention the impact it can have on your teeth and oral health, but people continue to ignore these warnings.

How Does Soda Affect Your Teeth?

Soda is bad for your teeth for a number of reasons. The main reason soda is not recommended for regular consumption is because the acid in the soda can wear away the enamel on your teeth. And we all know that once we lose the precious enamel on our teeth, it does not come back. There is significant dental and medical evidence to suggest that soda weakens the overall strength of teeth because of the loss of enamel. Teeth can also become translucent and people can even start to experience pain in their teeth because of drinking too much soda. When people try to switch to sodas with artificial sweeteners, they run the risk of a whole host of other problems including aspartame poisoning and ulcers in their mouth. The side effects on teeth can be devastating, yet people insist those effects are from something other than soda.

What Can You Do to Help Your Teeth?

Instead of trying to figure out how you can give up your beloved soda, why not try to focus on how you can replace it with something that is even better? If you think you’ll miss the “fizz” and the “bite” of soda, you’ll want to check out some of these beverages that can offer you the same “hit” that soda can. Here are 7 beverages you can drink instead of soda for your health, and protect your teeth and oral health.

Carbonated Water

If you crave that bubbly sensation that soda provides, try drinking carbonated water instead. You can purchase carbonated water machines that can save you a lot of money over time and you can get hooked on carbonated water to replace your soda, instead of being hooked on soda. Try adding some fruit to your carbonated water to increase the flavor, and you’ll be all set, and your teeth will thank you for it.

Flavored Waters

Flavored water continues to be a best seller in grocery stores across America. People who are trying to reduce their soda intake will appreciate the variety of flavors that flavored water comes in. You can get any flavor you can imagine, and they taste great. They are much better for your teeth than soda because they are usually flavored with natural ingredients and contain much less sugar than soda.

Flavored Coffees

If it’s the caffeine you think you’ll miss, then try a flavored coffee. While certain coffees have much higher levels of caffeine than soda, coffee does not contain the same ingredients as soda so it can be easier on your teeth over time.

Low Calorie Flavor Boosters

There are a number of companies offering flavor boosters that can be squirted right into your water bottle so you can drink flavored water on the go. These come in a range of flavors and are highly portable. They also come in powder and liquid form and tend to have much fewer calories and sugar than soda. You can mix and match them to create flavors all your own, and you can avoid soda effects on teeth.

Vegetable Juice

Rather than fill up on high sugar fruit juice, drink vegetable juice, or a combination of fruit and vegetable juice. This provides you with tons of nutrients and valuable calories that are good for your health and the health of your teeth. Vegetable drinks have much less sugar than soda and can help strengthen your immune system and tooth health, overall.

Tea

If you still aren’t on the tea wagon, it might be time to give it a whirl! Everyone drinks tea these days. There are many health benefits still being discovered about teas like green tea and Chaga tea (made from mushrooms); and tea doesn’t contain sugar, and it has about half the caffeine of soda. Some teas don’t have any caffeine at all.

Almond Milk

While the jury is still out on the value of cow’s milk to humans, many people are switching to soy or almond milk. A good quality almond milk has almost no sugar, no caffeine, and has a decent amount of good fat, calories and nutrients for the body and teeth. There are many brands on the market that fortify almond milk with vitamin D and calcium to make up for the fact that almond milk doesn’t contain a good amount of calcium. It’s worth dropping the soda for though because it is easily digestible and you can’t pour soda on your cereal.

When it comes to dropping soda from your diet altogether, it can be difficult to wrap your head around never having it again. Instead, enjoy many of these beverages on a regular basis because of their health benefits and enjoy soda in smaller amounts. One can of soda a day can add up to 350 unnecessary calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar - there are more fun ways to enjoy liquids that don’t have so much bearing on the health of your teeth.

​7 Bad Teeth Habits You Need To Break ASAP

June 1st, 2017

bad teeth habitsWhen we think of our health and wellness, we often think about our diets, how much we exercise, what kinds of diseases we have or could get. We don’t give as much thought to our oral health, however, and the state of our oral health (our mouth and teeth) can have a big impact on our overall health. Often times, the reason for poor oral health is because we neglect our teeth. Not the kind of neglect that means skipping brushing and dentist visits, but the kind of neglect that we put our teeth through every day without even realizing it. Here are seven bad teeth habits you need to break right now. Your oral health depends on it!

7 Bad Habits That Are Hurting Your Teeth

Biting Your Nails

Ugh. Biting your nails is terrible for your teeth. Plus, remember the last time you saw someone actually gnawing on their nails from a distance? It looks gross. Stop doing it. Your teeth are meant to chew food and nothing else. Use your fingernail clippers. It only takes a second to clip your nails so that you don’t spend time biting them.

Grinding Your Teeth

Some people don’t even realize they are grinding their teeth; mostly because people tend to do this in their sleep. It’s important that you consult your dentist regularly so that they can help identify if you are a teeth grinder and offer you solutions to help you stop. Things such as a bite guard, which can be worn at night to prevent your teeth from rubbing together, may be one suggestion your dentist offers.

Using Your Teeth as Tools to Open Things

Much like the nail biting, using your teeth for anything other than to chew food is a bad idea. Lots of people have chipped their teeth while trying to twist a bottle cap with their teeth, or tried to pull plastic apart with their teeth. Grab a knife to cut the plastic, and use a proper tool such as a bottle opener to save your teeth the harm of using them as a tool. If you were to chip your tooth deep enough, it might not be able to be saved, so be careful and avoid opening things with your teeth.

Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard

While it is important to brush your teeth a few times a day, it is also important that you have the right tool for the job. Using a brush that is too hard or using a brush in a forceful manner can wear away the enamel on your teeth and cause permanent damage. Imagine the irony of having poor oral health because you were trying too hard!? Use a gentle motion with a brush that is soft. Usually the dentist will give you the exact kind of toothbrush you need, so when you visit them next, ask for recommendations on what kind of brush is right for your teeth.

Drinking Sugary Drinks

Come on, now. You know better than to fill your mouth with soda pop and acidic fruit juices. You’ve seen the television commercials warning against acid erosion right? It’s not just a fluff. It’s real, and drinking too many sugary drinks can cause severe, irreversible damage to your teeth. Once enamel has worn away, it does not ever come back. Limiting your intake of fruit juices and sugary drinks can help reduce the amount of wear and tear your teeth experience.

Smoking

While it goes without saying that smoking brings with it a whole host of medical risks, one often overlooked risk is the risk of mouth cancer, tooth decay and oral hygiene in general. Your teeth can become stained and your enamel can also be weakened. Nicotine can cause a world of hurt for your mouth, not to mention your lungs. Avoid smoking as much as possible. If you are a smoker, ensure you have impeccable oral hygiene routines to ensure as little damage as possible.

Chewing on Things

It’s a habit. We know. We all have them: we chew on our pencils while we are deep in thought, we chew on our ice cubes after our cups have been drunk dry, we chew on pen caps and many other things that we don’t even realize! The problem with chewing on anything is the risk we run of breaking our teeth or wearing away the protective coating that keeps our teeth healthy. In addition, whenever you put something in your mouth (even food), there is a scenario in which you could choke. Never ever put anything in your mouth that isn’t food or drink. Aside from the damage you are doing to your teeth, it is an actual safety hazard.

The next time you catch yourself chewing on your nails, grinding your teeth, opening a bottle, or any of the other bad habits mentioned here, stop and think about how those activities are impacting your teeth. Think about how you are impacting your overall health and risk of developing long-term issues associated with your teeth. If you can’t stop these habits altogether, consider trying to alter them in some way. For example, if you can’t quit smoking, maybe you can see your dentist more regularly to ensure your teeth are healthy. If you can’t quit chewing on things, at least stop as soon as you catch yourself chewing on the top of your pencil. Don’t put yourself at any more risk that you already are for developing some kind of lasting oral health issue. You are control these things: you just have to recognize you are doing them and start working toward changing that behavior.

​Anatomy of a Tooth

May 25th, 2017

anatomy of a toothTeeth are an important part of the human body. We need them to chew our food, which enables us to survive, and if we take care of them, they can also give us a beautiful smile. But did you know that our teeth also affect how we talk? And if we don’t take care of them our overall health suffers? Teeth play a major role in our lives outside of just eating, which is why it is important that we take care of them, and taking care of them starts with being educated on what makes up the teeth in our mouths.

Stages of Teeth

Natal Teeth

One in every 2000-3000 births, Natal teeth are present when the baby comes to term. The teeth, usually appearing in the lower gum, are also called fetal teeth. Natal teeth tend no roots, or weak roots, so they often fall out fairly quickly. Doctors usually remove them so that they do not interfere with natural nursing, or risk injuring the baby’s soft lips.

Baby Teeth

We, humans, have two sets of teeth during our lives. Our baby teeth — called our primary teeth — develop in infancy. Usually there are 20 of them, which are buried beneath our gums at birth. They should erupt entirely by our third birthday, and can begin to appear as early as when we are six months old. They start erupting in the front and center of the mouth first, on the top and the bottom. After that they spread out sideways, filling the mouth towards the back, with the molars coming in last.

An important function of baby teeth, outside of helping children to chew, is to prepare the jaw and the gums for the arrival of the permanent, adult, teeth. The baby teeth push the jaw and gums outward, making more space for the developing adult teeth to have room to erupt as the baby teeth fall out. This eruption begins to happen when the child is about six years old.

Adult Teeth

Permanent teeth — also called adult teeth — number 32 in most people, 16 on the top and 16 on the bottom. As we said, they begin coming in around six years of age, and it takes until about 12 years old until they fully erupt. Adult teeth are larger and stronger than baby teeth and are the last set of teeth humans will have, so it is very important to take care of them as you get older. Proper brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups can help ensure that your teeth remain healthy for the rest of your life.

Types of Teeth

There are four different types of teeth in humans: incisors, canines, premolars and molars. In each jawbone, there is a specific number of each type of tooth. In the front and center are four incisors, on each side of the incisors is one canine. Next to each canine are two premolars, and next to those are three molars. The two back molars on each jaw, also known as the wisdom teeth, may not erupt. They are often impacted — sometimes sideways — into the jaw which often requires surgery to remove.

Incisors

The incisors support the lips and help you articulate the words you speak. They are thin and sharp and cut the food you eat into smaller pieces so it can be chewed by the larger, flatter molars. We have four incisors.

Canines

Canines help guide the teeth so that they slide neatly together. They also pierce and cut the food for easier chewing. Dentists call the pointy canines the cuspids. We have four canines.

Premolars

Also called bicuspids, they, along with the molars, are flat on the top and are used for chewing. We have eight premolars.

Molars

The molars are the largest, flattest teeth we’ve got, and do the bulk of the masticating, or chewing. The upper molars have three roots, the lower molars have two. The molars also help to support the height of the face. We have 12 molars.

Supernumerary Teeth

In some cases a person may develop more than 32 teeth, these are known as supernumerary teeth. Most often this is an extra incisor, in between two other incisors. This incisor is known as a mesioden. Another common supernumerary tooth is the paramolar, an additional molar. Extra canine teeth have also been known to occur. These extra teeth can cause issues with spacing within the mouth and are often removed by your dentist.

Anatomy of a Tooth - What Makes up Your Teeth

The Crown and the Root

A tooth is comprised of two major parts: the crown and the root. The crown of a tooth is the white part that you can see, the part that is above the gum line. It is only about 1/3 of the whole tooth. The root is embedded in the gums and the jawbone. It is about 2/3 of the tooth and surrounds the nerve endings, or pulp, of the tooth.

Enamel

The enamel is the shiny white coating on the outside of the tooth. It is also the part that becomes dull and yellow if you don’t brush properly, or eat, drink or smoke things that can stain the enamel. The enamel protects the tooth from wear. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body.

Dentin

Dentin is a yellow, bony material that supports the tooth’s enamel. It also carries some of the nerve fibers that ache when something is wrong with your tooth. Dentin is stronger than bone, but softer than enamel.

Cementum

Cementum is the tooth root’s surface layer. It is a dynamic periodontium entity, meaning that it is not a passive chemical like enamel. It attaches to the bone and the gingiva. Gingivitis can inflame it. Cementum helps repair and regenerate the teeth.

Dental Pulp

In the tooth's center is the pulp, which contains blood, nerves and lymph vessels. The nerves and lymphatic vessels send electrochemical signals to the nervous system and the brain. The blood feeds the tooth, keeping it alive.

Keep Your Teeth Healthy

Once our adult teeth grow in that's it, there's no going back. If your adult teeth fall out or become diseased, you will have to resort to dental implants or dentures for the rest of your life. Regular brushing, flossing, and check-ups by your dentist are great ways to help prevent tooth decay and other oral health issues. Cutting down on sugary drinks and smoking can also help the longevity of your teeth.

If you're in the Chicagoland area and looking for more information regarding the health of your teeth, or you wish to setup an appointment to see one of our incredible Dentists, contact us today!

​Where To Get Teeth-Friendly Cocktails in Chicago

April 27th, 2017

teeth healthy drinks chicagoDid you know that the top drinking adults consume up to 73.85 drinks every week on average? To put this into perspective, that is equivalent to four and a half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels weekly, or 10 drinks every day.

While that fact alone is pretty shocking, what is even more surprising is the adverse effects that some of these drinks can have on your oral health.

If you enjoy an alcoholic beverage from time to time, then it is a good idea to get to know some of the drink options that aren’t as bad for your teeth. Consuming these may help prevent serious dental issues.

In addition to knowing some basic guidelines for choosing drinks that won’t damage your teeth, it is also a good idea to know what to order at popular Chicago restaurants.

Use Common Sense for Your Liquor Selections

If you are planning on drinking or serving alcohol at a party or event, or just want to have a drink with dinner, some options have fewer sugars and that are less acidic than others. For example, wine can be terrible for your teeth due to its acidity with a pH of 3, and red wine also contains harmful staining compounds. Choosing pale beer would be a better option when it comes to the health of your teeth.

Straight spirits can be better for your teeth as they usually contain less sugar and fewer staining compounds. They also have a higher pH level of 5, which means they are less acidic. However, not all spirits are created equal, for example, rum will contain more sugars than whiskey.

And while spirits on their own may be a safer choice for your teeth, mixed drinks can bring acid and sugar to your liquor, so it is best to avoid drinks such as whiskey sours or Jack and Coke.

Protecting the Health of Your Teeth

If you are going to drink an acidic or sugar-filled beverage, then it is best to consume it with a straw. This will help to keep the damaging elements away from the enamel of your teeth, which can help prevent severe damage in the future.

Keep in mind, any alcoholic beverage that is mixed with soda is going to be extremely damaging to your teeth. If you want a mixed drink, choose one with tonic, club soda or carbonated water.

Finding Teeth Healthy Alcoholic Drinks in Chicago

If you enjoy relaxing and having a drink or two after work or on the weekend, finding a few places in the local area to get these drinks can be beneficial. We have put together a list of some of the most popular locations near Water Tower Dental Care in the Streeterville, Near North side of Chicago, to get teeth-friendly alcoholic beverages.

The Signature Room

Located on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building, The Signature Room is a top spot for private events and fine dining. This restaurant offers an extensive selection of specialty drinks, including a few that would be teeth-friendly options. Some drinks to consider trying include the Moscow Mule and The Gold Coast.

Mity Nice Bar & Grill

A perfect place for lunch or dinner, Mity Nice Bar & Grill provides the ideal spot for a casual lunch or dinner. The location offers a number of beer options that will be safe for your teeth. We recommend giving the Begyle Blonde a try and you can't go wrong with the Escapist IPA. The majority of the draft beers on tap at Mity Nice are also from local breweries!

Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch

Located on the 7th floor of the Water Tower Place on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, this restaurant and museum combo encompasses over 23,000 square feet. In addition to fantastic food and drink options, the location also offers entertainment, retail options, and private event venues. If you are ready to have a great time while visiting this Harry Caray’s location, we recommend the Big Riki, Cool as a Cucumber, or the Daisy Cutter.

Luxbar

Opened in 2005, Luxbar, located in the Gold Coast Neighborhood in Chicago, offers up delicious food selections with natural and fresh ingredients. In addition to an array of options to eat, the location also offers an extensive drink menu. If you're looking for some teeth-safe options, then consider ordering Clarence Gets his Wings, Staff Meeting or full proof bourbon.

Drumbar

This rooftop bar is just off of Michigan Avenue on top of the Raffaello Hotel. Drumbar is an energetic and moody bar that offers some of the best cocktails you are going to experience in all of Chicago. For teeth-healthy options, consider ordering the hot oddity, narcos or one of the light beer selections.

The Bottom Line

It is fine to indulge from time to time, however, when you keep an eye on the choices that you make, it may help to prevent teeth issues and damage to a minimum. By choosing the right drinks, it can also help you consume fewer calories, as well, which is also good for your waistline.

Also, if you plan to have a cocktail or wine, even just a single drink, make sure you sip on water too. This can help to counteract the damage that some of these drinks may cause.

​Cavities: Myths vs Facts

April 6th, 2017

cavities myth vs factCavities are a common dental problem that impact children and adults alike. Other than brushing your teeth regularly and maintaining a healthy diet, the best way to avoid cavities is to understand what causes them. There are various myths that surround their formation and treatment, but with a deeper understanding of what is true and what is not, you can prevent cavities for yourself and your family.

The Truth: What Causes Cavities

Cavity formation begins when bacteria damages the outer, hard surface of your teeth. As we consume food and beverages, naturally-occurring bacteria in our mouth feeds off of the sugar and produces acid. When this acid is left on the surface of our teeth, it begins to wear down the hard outer surface of our enamel and causes small holes to form – cavities. Without proper treatment, these acids can continue to eat their way through the tooth and can lead to sensitivity and tooth decay.

10 Common Myths About Cavities

  • Sugar is the Main Cause of Cavities: The reason that this is considered a myth is because it is usually targeted at the sugar you find in a candy bar, ice cream, or other “junk foods.” Yes, sugar can cause cavities. However, sugar can be found in a variety of different food and beverages – even ones that are considered “healthy” for us. The fact is that cavity formation begins as the enzymes in our mouth react to the sugars in what we consume. The main cause of cavities is not from the sugar, but rather the improper and/or inconsistent dental care.
  • Children Get More Cavities Than Adults: Cavity formation is not biased towards an age group. It is a process that kids and adults, alike, experience. Some children and adults can be cavity prone, based on genetics, diet, or oral hygiene. Teeth are susceptible to cavity formation at any point – “from the time the first tooth erupts to the time that the last tooth falls out.”
  • Cavities Cause Bad Breath: Cavities, like bad breath, are symptoms of an underlying problem – tooth decay. As the acids and bacteria are breaking down the enamel on your teeth, causing cavities, they are also combining with other particles in your mouth and breaking those down as well. The “decay” of your enamel and other substances in your mouth is what leads to bad breath – not the cavity itself.
  • Fruit Causes Cavities: This is a myth because it is not the fruit that causes or increases the likelihood of cavities; it is the combined effort of the acids in most fruits and poor dental care. Remember, the acids that form from food particles, saliva, and other bacteria begins to wear down the enamel of our teeth. Maintaining quality dental hygiene can prevent this wear.
  • Babies Cannot Get Cavities: Although babies’ teeth are considered temporary, the tooth itself is made up of the same compounds as an adult tooth. This means that they are just as susceptible to cavities as older children and adults.
  • Sugar-Free Gum Prevents Cavities: Although there are more benefits to chewing sugar-free gum than chewing non-sugar-free gum, it is not a replacement for proper oral care. Sugar-free gum contains Xylitol (a natural sweetener) that helps prevent acid from sticking to the teeth, but it does not, and will not, ever fully protect a tooth from developing a cavity.
  • Cavities Make Your Teeth Fall Out: Similar to a few of the myths above, cavities are not the cause of a tooth falling out, but it can be a symptom of tooth decay. Cavities begin as small holes in the enamel of the tooth. If acid continues to wear down the area, the result can be gum disease which weakens the support of the gum surrounding your teeth which can increase the likelihood of losing a tooth.
  • Cavities Are Contagious: Although bacteria that contributes to cavity formation can be transmitted, the cavity itself is not contagious. The best way to ensure the strength of your teeth is to maintain your own oral care.
  • Cavities Can Heal On Their Own: Some researchers do believe that you can “reverse” cavity formation if the symptoms are caught early enough. However, enamel does not re-grow and once the damage has occurred – it’s irreversible (at least for now).
  • Cavity Fillings Do Not Last: This myth is somewhat factual. Fillings are designed to last quite awhile, but if they are not properly cared for they can deteriorate from clenching, grinding, or continuous exposure to acids and bacteria.

Treating yourself to proper and consistent oral care is the best method to avoid cavities and tooth decay. This includes, but is not limited to, brushing at least twice a day, flossing at least once, and regularly rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash. Understanding the causes (and myths) of cavity formation is one of the best remedies for preventing them.

​Can Flossing Cause Gaps Between Your Teeth?

February 23rd, 2017

​Can Flossing Cause Gaps Between Your Teeth?

Flossing has become a controversial topic, thanks to the latest report from the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture. In its most recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, flossing is not included as part of a daily health regimen. However, the departments, alongside the American Dental Association (ADA), Center for Disease Control and others, reaffirmed that flossing helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

According to the ADA, interdental cleaners, such as floss, remove plaque and food debris that can lead to cavities or gum disease from the areas that a toothbrush can’t reach. The ADA recommends brushing teeth for two minutes twice a day as well as flossing to clean between teeth once a day.

Does Flossing Cause Teeth Gaps?

Flossing is often overlooked due to convenience (we know you’re busy!) or misinformation despite the recommendation to floss daily. In fact, some think that flossing can cause gaps between your teeth and skip flossing altogether.

While you can experience gaps in between your teeth when flossing, the gaps do not occur because flossing itself is harmful. Instead, gaps can occur due to flossing mistakes and improper flossing such as cutting your gums.

Common Flossing Mistakes That Can Lead to Teeth Gaps

You Cut Your Gums.

Forcing the floss in between the teeth causes the floss to snap down and cut your gums. Not only is this painful, but it can cause the gums to recede overtime and create—you guessed it—gaps in between your teeth.

You Stop Flossing When Your Gums Bleed.

Gums often bleed because plaque on the teeth irritate and inflame the gums. If your gums bleed when you floss, it is a sign you have built-up plaque that needs to be removed or have gum disease.

How to Properly Floss Your Teeth

If you are experiencing gaps between your teeth, you may just need to properly floss your teeth, in addition to your twice daily brushing and regular dentist office visits every six months.

Start by breaking a string about 18 inches of floss. Then, wind most of it around your middle fingers on both hands. Hold the floss tight between your thumbs and forefingers.

Now guide the floss gently between your teeth using a sawing motion. Remember to avoid snapping and forcing the floss into the gums, which can cause irritation, bleeding and even recessed gums and teeth gaps over time.

Bend the floss into a C-shape around the tooth when the floss reaches the gum line, allowing the floss to reach all the way to the base of the tooth.

Next, rub each side of the tooth gently using up and down motions as you move the floss away from the gums. This helps remove any built-up plaque or trapped food particles.

Keep moving to another tooth using a clean section of floss every time. Be sure to floss the very last teeth all the way in the back—just because there isn’t another tooth next to them doesn’t mean plaque and food particles like to hide there too.

Finally, rinse with water or mouthwash.

Flossing every day is essential to your oral health. Without flossing, built-up plaque can lead to tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and even gaps in between the teeth.

If you continue to experience problems flossing or have any questions, visit Water Tower Dental Care or contact us to schedule an appointment. We can take a look at your teeth to see if there are any serious issues and teach you the proper way to floss.

​Why Does Water Hurt My Teeth? Tooth Sensitivity to Water

February 16th, 2017

​Why Does Water Hurt My Teeth? Tooth Sensitivity to Water

Have you ever taken a sip of water and felt a sharp pain in your teeth? This likely means that you have sensitive teeth, and that doing something simple, such as drinking a glass of water, or taking a deep breath through your mouth, can be painful.

So what causes this and how can you fix it?

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity occurs when the protective enamel on our teeth gets thinner, or when our gums recede. There are many reasons why this could be happening:

  • You might be brushing your teeth too hard. When you put too much pressure on your teeth while brushing, you can gradually start wearing down the protective layers of your teeth. When this occurs, the tubes or canals that lead to your nerves may become exposed, which can lead to pain or discomfort, especially when eating or drinking something hot or cold. Try using lighter strokes when brushing.
  • You could have cavities or loose fillings. Cavities are holes in your teeth that can grow bigger over time. The bigger the hole gets, the more sensitive your teeth can feel. If you think you might have a cavity, or one of your fillings may be loose, make sure to see your dentist right away.
  • You’re grinding your teeth. Grinding your teeth can wear down the protective enamel on your teeth, but many people may not even realize that they’re doing it. Oftentimes, people grind their teeth in their sleep.
  • You could have a cracked or broken tooth. A cracked or broken tooth can expose the tooth’s nerve, which can cause sensitivity or pain.
  • You may have gum disease. Gum disease is caused by plaque, the sticky bacteria that constantly forms on our teeth. If that plaque is not removed with brushing and flossing, it may harden and form “tartar,” which is then very difficult to remove. Teeth sensitivity can be a symptom of gum disease.
  • Your mouthwash or toothpaste could be causing it. Some teeth-whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes contain chemicals that your teeth may become sensitive to. Try switching to a mouthwash with less chemicals and a desensitizing toothpaste, such as Sensodyne.
  • The foods you’re eating might be too acidic. Excessive consumption of acidic foods or beverages can put your teeth at risk for tooth sensitivity.


Treatments For Sensitive Teeth

If you’re experiencing pain associated with sensitive teeth, there are a number of treatments a dentist can perform that may help, depending on the cause.

  • Desensitizing with Gluma is a dental treatment that can help your teeth become less sensitive by stopping by occluding (blocking) the microscopic tubules that compose dentin, thereby preventing the flow of fluid and decreasing sensitivity.
  • Gum Disease Treatment Therapy can help treat gum disease, a major contributor of teeth sensitivity, with targeted treatments designed just for you.
  • A crown, inlay or bonding can fix a broken tooth or decay that might be causing your teeth to be sensitive. Water Tower Dental Care is proud to offer porcelain crowns in just one visit with CEREC technology.

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity or have any questions about it, please contact Water Tower Dental Care today.

​Why Do Dentists Wear Masks?

January 12th, 2017

Why Do Dentists Wear Masks?

You may notice that your dentist, along with the rest of their staff, is always wearing a mask when you are inside the actual dental procedure room. If you've ever wondered why they do this, the answer is a fairly simple one – the mask helps control the spread of infectious particles, and other unwanted germs that reside inside the human mouth.

Wearing these masks is also part of the protocol established by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. Any dental employee who may come into contact with blood must take part in training on infection control, and understanding the importance of a proper mask is part of that training.

Protecting The Dental Practitioner

All doctors likely come into contact with germs and particles while they are working, and a dentist is no different. This can range from a basic cold or virus to a major blood-borne disease.

Your dentist and their colleagues are preventing themselves from many infections that can be transmitted, and they also cover themselves from transferring any type of particles from one patient to the next.

Does The Mask Protect Me?

Your dentist’s mask, along with other sanitation procedures, are all done with your health and safety in mind. The dentist's mask protects you from any germs he or she may have picked up from other patients and limits the transmission of those germs. Dental work is often performed with the doctor and the patient within very close proximity of one another. The mask allows, among other things, for the doctor to communicate freely with the patient without having to move away from their work area to do so.

What Are Other Safety Precautions My Dentist Takes?

One of the first things you may see a dentist do is to wash their hands. They then apply sterile gloves, along with the mask. He or she will also have their instruments completely sterilized, and ready to provide a safe, sterile environment for your dental work. Dentists are required to sterilize their instruments in line with CDC and ADA guidelines, and they often utilize special machines to do so. A simple wash is not enough to completely sterilize dental instruments.

Items such as needles and other single-use equipment are thrown away after each use and a new one is used for each patient. Any item that is disposable that comes into contact with blood of any kind is thrown away in a special receptacle immediately after use is complete.

There are items in a dental room that cannot be sterilized in the same fashion as the instruments. Things like the X-ray machine, the counters, and other heavy equipment are typically wiped down and thoroughly cleaned after each and every patient visit.

Conclusion

Whenever you visit a medical professional, you should have high expectations of a clean, safe and sterile environment. The mask your dentist wears is part of that, and you shouldn’t allow any dental office that doesn’t require its staff to wear masks during procedures to work on your mouth. With Water Tower Dental Care, your safety and comfortability is our top priority. Contact us today to book an appointment.

​5 Reasons Why Water Tower Dental Care Is Unique

December 15th, 2016

5 Unusual Tips to Keep Your Gums in Tip-Top Shape from Our DentistsFor the most gorgeous teeth in Chicago – or anywhere – Water Tower Dental Care is the best in general, cosmetic, and implant dentistry. The practice boasts exceptional patient care using advanced technology in a luxurious office setting.

1 – Leading Technology

Water Tower Dental Care is proud to use cutting edge technology to deliver the best care for all patients. Intraoral cameras on a pen-sized wand project live imaging in the exam room, allowing patients to see what the dentist sees and develop a better standing of their individual oral health.

Digital radiography and 3D CBCT imaging produces detailed images for more accurate diagnoses while exposing patients to 90% less radiation, and DIAGNOdent laser technology facilitates early detection of areas of tooth decay for minimally invasive treatment.

Lasers, or concentrated light beams, allow the Water Tower dentists to perform procedures like gum recontouring, gum lightening, and bacterial reduction. Another light system, the VELscope, illuminates abnormal tissues that might be at risk for oral cancer but could go unseen by the naked eye.

T-scan Bite Analysis uses a digital system to measure the force of each person’s bite and identify issues with the alignment that could cause pain or problems later.

This advanced technology allows Water Tower Dental Care to quickly and accurately identify issues and address them proactively.

2 – World-Class Dentistry

Dr. Daniel Aneszkoand Dr. Rana Stino deliver high-quality, comprehensive care tailored to each patient for the best possible experience. Both hold advanced degrees from leading universities, are board-certified Doctors of Dental Surgery, and are members of multiple national dental organizations. Drs. Aneszko and Stino continue to pursue training in new technology and education in specialized dentistry each year to ensure they are delivering the most effective, world-class treatments to each patient.

3 – Specializes in Spectacular

A quality dentist can provide excellent oral health care, but Dr. Anesko and Dr. Stino specialize in making their patients’ teeth look gorgeous through cosmetic dentistry.

Enamel remineralization therapy evens out the enamel, creating a brighter, whiter smile with stronger, less sensitive teeth. Minimal prep or porcelain veneers mask stained or oddly shaped teeth for a dazzling smile. Zoom! Whitening Therapy can transform teeth up to 8 shades, from stained and yellowed to Hollywood white, in just over one hour of in-office treatment! For convenience, Zoom and Water Tower Dental Care also offer custom whitening trays for at-home treatments.

Invisalign clear braces help straighten teeth discretely, with clear trays that fit over teeth. An advanced 3-D scan helps map the teeth and create a treatment plan to straighten teeth in about 12 months.

4 – Top-Notch Customer Service

Water Tower Dental Care proudly offers customer service that rivals that of the Ritz-Carlton. Office patients are greeted with coffee, tea, or juice, a comfortable waiting area, and access to WIFI and iPads, and the office carries a selection of prescription products for conveniences. For patients who may be nervous about dental visits, the location boasts a relaxation room. TVs and noise-cancelling headphones are available for use during treatment.

For out of town patients, Water Tower Dental Care is happy to provide a luxury concierge service to arrange travel, accommodations, transportation around the city, and recommendations and reservations for restaurants, shows, shopping, and local attractions and entertainment.

5 – Location, location, location

Water Tower Dental Care is named after the iconic Chicago building where the office is located. The practice is in the heart of Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile, in the Water Tower Place Building at 845 North Michigan Avenue. The area is known for its shopping, dining, entertainment, and luxury condominiums.

If all this sounds good to you, please don't hesitate to make an appointment with Chicago's number one dentistry, Water Tower Dental Care, today! We're looking forward to serving you.

5 Reasons Why The Underside of Your Tongue May Hurt

November 10th, 2016

5 Reasons Why The Underside of Your Tongue May HurtWe use our tongues to talk, drink, and eat. Any time they get hurt, it can feel like the pain is magnified ten-fold. Usually, pain on the underside of the tongue is caused by a minor injury or ailment and isn’t cause for too much concern. Here are 5 reasons the underside of your tongue may hurt.

#1 - Injury from a Bite

Nearly everyone has accidentally bitten his or her tongue, probably more than once. It can hurt, but the pain usually subsides in a few minutes. Depending on where and how it was bitten, it could hurt more on the underside of the tongue, especially if the bite was the result of a fall or a blow that caused you to bite down inadvertently. Irritation may continue for a few days if your taste buds – the small bumps on the tongue – are injured from the bite and become infected and inflamed.

#2 – Irritation from Foods or Foreign Objects

Common orthodontic devices like dentures and braces can cause tongue pain and irritation if they don’t fit quite right. Often the irritation occurs when someone has just gotten their braces or dentures, and they are still adjusting. Both braces and dentures can cause sores or cuts on the tongue and inside of the mouth that can be remedied by gargling with salt water or using over the counter oral gels or pain relievers.

Irritation can also come from foods, particularly those served at a high temperature like hot cocoa or soup or those that are spicy. Accidentally sipping or biting into something that’s too hot can cause the tongue to feel burned and to become red and swollen. Most tongue burns from too-hot foods are first-degree burns that heal quickly, but more severe burns should be seen and treated by a doctor. Spicy foods can make the tongue feel as if it’s burning and can exacerbate other conditions.

#3 - Canker Sore

Canker sores can develop on the tongue, underneath the tongue, or on the inside of the mouth. The cause is unknown, but they look like a small crater and may be red with white and yellow in the center. Canker sores can be related to irritation and injury from braces or biting the tongue, but may also be triggered by other factors, including stress. They usually stop hurting in 7-10 days and are completely gone within a few weeks.

#4 - Strained Tongue

The tongue is one of the strongest muscles in the body. It’s rare for it to become strained because it’s accustomed to nearly constant use from eating, talking and drinking, but it is possible. A strained tongue would be most likely to occur from overexertion or overuse of the muscle.

#5 – Glossitis, or Inflamed Tongue

Glossitis is inflammation of the tongue that is often the symptom of another issue. Acute glossitis has a sudden onset, usually stemming from an allergic reaction. Chronic glossitis, on the other hand, is recurring and generally signals an underlying health issue. Allergic reactions or irritation from food or medication, low iron levels, mouth trauma, dental appliances like braces or dentures, dry mouth, and certain diseases are all potential causes of different types of glossitis.

There are many reasons people may experience pain on the underside of the tongue Most of them are not serious and will go away within a few days or, at most, a few weeks. Tongue pain, however, can be the sign of a serious underlying medical issue. Always consult with a dentist to ensure that the pain isn’t the result of a severe problem, like a viral infection or even tongue cancer. Reach out to us today to find out what may be causing pain on the underside of your tongue!

Can You Have Sleep Apnea Without Snoring?

October 13th, 2016

Can You Have Sleep Apnea Without Snoring?Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing repeatedly starts and stops during sleep. Snoring loudly is a common symptom, but it's not the only sign – and snoring doesn't necessarily indicate sleep apnea. Dentists tend to be the first doctors to identify a sleep apnea problem in their patients, since people tend to visit dentists more frequently than physicians.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common but potentially serious disorder that occurs when your breathing repeatedly pauses during sleep. Sleep cycles are disrupted when breathing stops and then restarts normally, leading to poor quality of sleep and excessive tiredness during the day.

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs when the airway is blocked as the muscles in the back of the throat relax. Breathing pauses when the airway is blocked and resumes once the brain senses the lack of breath and quickly, briefly interrupts sleep to resume normal breathing.

Central sleep apnea is rarer; it occurs when the brain doesn't signal the body to breathe for a period of time.

If You Don't Snore, Can You Still Have It?

Snoring is one of the leading indicators of sleep apnea. But people who snore don't always have sleep apnea, and individuals who don’t snore could still be affected.

People with central sleep apnea often do not snore. Their bodies simply do not attempt to breathe for a period of time during sleep. Those suffering from central sleep apnea often struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, or wake up short of breath.

If you’re not sure if you snore but you frequently wake up during the night, experience shortness of breath after sleep, or suffer from extreme tiredness throughout the day, you may have sleep apnea.

Signs You May Have Sleep Apnea

Snoring is the most obvious sign of sleep apnea. If you snore loudly, particularly with recurrent episodes of snorting or choking, you may have sleep apnea. The snorting or choking is an indicator that your breathing was stopped and then restarted.

If you think you sleep through the night yet you remain tired throughout the day, if you frequently wake up during the night or struggle to get to sleep, or if you are frequently irritable and unable to focus due to lack of sleep, sleep apnea could be the culprit.

Headaches, sore throats, and dry mouth first thing in the morning upon waking are also potential indicators of sleep apnea.

People who are overweight or who have large neck circumferences, men, older adults, smokers, those with a family history of sleep apnea, and those who use alcohol or tranquilizers are all more likely to suffer from the condition.

With new technology, you can find out if you have sleep apnea from the comfort of your own home! You can now use home sleep apnea tests that cost less than other tests, are covered by most major medical plans, and track your sleeping data while you’re in your own bed. Your physician or sleep specialist can then review the data to determine if you have sleep apnea and recommend next steps. Contact us to learn more!

Most dentists are trained to treat sleep apnea with the treatment methods identified above. However, a sleep medicine specialist needs to confirm that the patient has sleep apnea before the patient can be treated. 

Treatment Options

There is a range of treatment options for cases of sleep apnea ranging from mild to life-threatening.

For mild cases, doctors typically recommend simple lifestyle changes as the first line of defense. If a person is overweight and suffering from sleep apnea, weight loss is recommended to alleviate symptoms. Those who smoke are advised to quit, and those who drink alcohol or take certain medications are recommended to refrain from using those substances near bedtime.

If nasal congestion is a symptom, nasal sprays, and allergy or congestion medications can be beneficial. Sometimes adjusting sleep position – sleeping on one's side, instead of flat on the back – can make a big difference.

If the sleep apnea is more severe, a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure device, may be helpful. The CPAP device is a mask worn during sleep that blows constant air into the airway to keep it open.

Another option for more severe cases is SomnoDent G2 therapy. This next-generation treatment is much less invasive than the CPAP device. All you have to do is place it over your teeth when you sleep and it will prevent the collapse of the upper airway. Best of all, it works. 91% of patients reported improvement in sleep quality while using SomnoDent. We can make your own customized SomnoDent device that fits your bite here at Water Tower Dental Care! Many of our patients’ insurance companies help cover this treatment. Contact us to learn more!

In more severe cases, or if CPAP is unsuccessful, surgery can help remove excess tissue or widen the airway.

If you think you may suffer with sleep apnea, don’t be afraid to bring it up at your next dentist appointment. Request an appointment with our dentists today!

Cubs vs. White Sox: Which Chicago Mascot Has Better Teeth?

September 22nd, 2016

Cubs vs White Sox: Which Chicago Mascot Has Better Teeth?There’s nothing like a little Chicago crosstown rivalry to get the blood boiling. While we’ll leave the big game analysis up to the professional players, we’re here to compare the teams in a new, but equally important way: by their mascot’s teeth. After all, who wants to follow a team that represents bad dental health?

White Sox: Southpaw

White Sox definitely wins the award for one of the most random mascots. Southpaw, the White Sox’s mascot, is not an alligator, frog, or a dirty sock, despite people’s assumptions. In reality, he’s just a big, strong green guy with big love for the Chicago White Sox.

But what about his dental health?

We can’t actually see Southpaw’s teeth, which is not typically normal for such a big guy. According to the White Sox website, his favorite foods are fruits and veggies, so he’s on the right track for having great teeth (and he definitely needs teeth to eat these things). But we’re worried that his teeth are too small for his mouth. We’d recommend dental veneers to lengthen the teeth or maybe even braces to move his teeth down and allow them to be more visible.

Get to know Southpaw more here!

Cubs: Clark

When it comes to teeth, the Chicago Cubs mascot, Clark the cub, has an advantage: He’s young. Just like most parts of your body, your teeth get older as you get older. You may lose enamel as you age, making your teeth weaker. And your teeth will inevitably get worn down thanks to chewing and bad habits, like grinding or chewing ice.

There’s no doubt about it - Clark’s teeth are amazing. They are beautifully sharp, straight and white. We’re not sure what Clark’s eating or what his oral hygiene routine is, but we hope he keeps it up as he gets older. He’s on the right track.

Get to know Clark more here!

Final Score: Which Chicago Mascot Has the Best Teeth?

Without Clark and Southpaw coming into Water Tower Dental Care for an appointment, it’s hard to judge the health of their teeth. But only taking their appearance into consideration, we have to give Clark the Cub the award for Mascot with the Best Teeth in Chicago. They are the perfect size for his mouth and look strong and healthy.

Southpaw, when it comes to food, it sounds like you’re eating the right food for healthy teeth. We just hope that your teeth are large and strong enough to stay healthy for years to come!

Want to see how your teeth stack up to these iconic Chicago mascots? Schedule an appointment with Water Tower Dental Care today! We’ll help you get on the path to a healthy and beautiful smile.

 

Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Headaches and Neck Pain?

September 15th, 2016

Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Headaches and Neck Pain?As the last teeth to emerge into the mouth, wisdom teeth can be the source of a lot of problems. Because they typically don't develop until ages 17-24, they may not have enough room to grow in, causing painful impaction of the teeth. This means that these four wisdom teeth may only partially come through into the mouth, or in some cases, not at all.

Wisdom teeth are the source of many aches and pains, and removal is typically the best option to relieve symptoms of impaction. What may not be commonly known is their ability to affect other regions of the body, causing symptoms of headaches and neck pain. This article will strive to provide answers to those who are wondering about the full range of wisdom tooth pain, including lesser known symptoms like headaches and neck pain.

Is it True That Wisdom Teeth Can Cause Headaches and Neck Pain?

In short, absolutely. As wisdom teeth slowly grow into maturation, they can have some potentially significant—and painful—effects on the rest of your body. With decreased room to grow, wisdom teeth create natural tension. This slowly building tension can spread from your gums, into your jaw, and across other areas of your body.

How Do They Cause this Pain?

Headaches come as a result of tension and irregular pressure in your jaw. As wisdom teeth grow in, they may cause your other teeth to shift in order to make room. Sometimes this results in what dentists call a “gum pouch.” This is a small, painful pouch that results from an infection caused by a wisdom tooth trying to come through.

As a result, your jaw position and your bite may be forced to change in an attempt to avoid unnecessary pain. While adjusting your jaw position may save you from biting down on a swollen and painful gum pocket, you may be unknowingly causing further harm. Changing your bite pattern could shift your jaw joints into an unnatural position.

Those shifted jaw joints may become swollen and painful, and could get pushed against your ear muscles every time those joints are flexed. This is what causes a headache—direct and unnatural pressure against ear muscles due to a shifted jaw position and bite pattern.

Increased tension in your jaw can certainly spread to your neck, causing neck pain as well. That pressure can quickly spread from the back of your jaw to your lower neck, increasing overall pain, and perhaps inflaming headache symptoms, as well. Headaches and neck pain can be sure signs that a wisdom tooth has been infected, and needs removal.

What Are the Treatment Options for Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

Treatment options are split into two groups: preventative treatment, and permanent relief. The best way to prevent wisdom teeth from becoming infected is to practice routine and thorough oral hygiene. Surrounding decay also causes many painful symptoms caused by wisdom teeth, or food and bacteria getting trapped around the tooth. Proper and thorough oral hygiene can act as good preventative measures for incoming wisdom teeth.

Unfortunately, the placement of wisdom teeth can make proper hygiene tough. Because they rest so far back in the jaw, they can be hard to clean. Additionally, there is not much to do for preventing pain from wisdom teeth—it's painful, but a relatively natural growth process.

Once impacted, or infected, the absolute best treatment is to have the affected teeth removed. Unfortunately, painkillers are only a temporary solution to what could become a permanent—and dangerous—problem. Left untreated, an impacted wisdom tooth could spread infections into the jaw muscles, which could travel into the brain. Keeping your body as healthy as possible can sometimes mean keeping your mouth as healthy as possible, too.

Not only will this alleviate painful symptoms, but removing wisdom teeth is the best way to prevent your body from developing an abnormal bite pattern. This will relieve tension headaches and neck pain, as well.

Conclusion

While wisdom teeth can indeed carry a host of painful symptoms and issues, the good news is that wisdom teeth pain is entirely treatable. You may not be able to prevent your wisdom teeth from coming in, but you can certainly avoid suffering unnecessary pain through wisdom teeth removal.

If you are suffering from headaches and neck pain, visit Water Tower Dental Care in Chicago today! We can help you determine if your wisdom teeth could be the cause.

What Causes Gums to Turn Purple or Brown?

July 21st, 2016

What Causes Gums to Turn Purple or Brown?Seeing your gums change from their natural color can be pretty scary. One day you may see healthy pink gums in the mirror, and the next you might notice an ominous purple or brown tint creeping over them. Brown gums or gum darkening could be completely natural based on your ethnicity or aging. But if your gums are suddenly turning purple or brown, it may be a sign that something dangerous is happening inside your mouth that requires professional attention.
Here are the main causes of gums turning purple or brown.

Naturally Darker Gums

If you have naturally brown or darker gums based on your your skin pigment, then you have no need to worry. Gum color varies just like skin color does. If you aren’t caucasian, you may have dark brown gums or may experience spotted darkness on your gums. This can be due to an increase of melanin production in your body and is completely normal and natural.
As you age, you may also notice that your gums change color. If this change in color is uniform and you don’t experience any other issues, including swollen gums, bleeding, and pain, this change in color may be completely natural. That being said, we always recommend that you check in with a dentist before passing a change in gum color off as normal.

Medication & Smoking

Both medication and smoking can result in gum discoloration. One of the most common causes of oral pigmentation change is a condition called Smoker’s Melanosis. If you have Smoker’s Melanosis, your gums, cheeks, or palate may turn brown or black due to smoking or using drugs that contain nicotine. Smoking can also lead to gum disease and oral cancer, which can result in your gums turning purple or brown (we’ll discuss this more below). Finally, some medication can also cause your gums to change color.

What Causes Brown Gums?

If your gums aren’t naturally brown, you may have a more serious problem. Brown gums could be a sign of calculus. Calculus is a buildup of hardened dental plaque, saliva, minerals and/or oral debris that have turned into a calcified deposit. These deposits can build up underneath your gum line or on your gum line and appear as yellow to dark brown spots. Daily flossing and brushing are imperative to avoid calculus. If you think you have calculus, you should see your dentist immediately.
A tan, brown, or blue-black spot on your gums may signal that you have oral malignant melanoma, a dangerous type of cancer. The spot may also be mixed with red, purple, or grey colors. It could be found anywhere in your mouth and its shape and size will change as it grows. While oral melanoma is very rare, it can be fatal. You should visit a medical professional immediately if you think you may have oral melanoma. Learn more about oral malignant melanoma here.

What Causes Purple Gums?

[caption id="attachment_2527" align="alignright" width="300"] Before and After Gum Disease Treatment Therapy[/caption]
Purple gums can signal that you have gum disease (periodontal disease). As gum disease worsens, you may notice that your gums are swollen and appear to be bright red or purple. Plaque is the root cause of gum disease, at first irritating your gums and eventually causing deep infections that can destroy your tissue and bone. It’s important that you practice proper oral hygiene to avoid gum disease and see a dentist as soon as possible if you think you are suffering with the disease. Click here to see how we treat severe gum disease at Water Tower Dental Care in Chicago.
A purple spot on your gums could also be a sign of oral malignant melanoma, which we discussed above. You should see a medical professional as soon as possible if you have a purple spot anywhere in your mouth.

How to Avoid Gum Discoloration

Unnatural gum discoloration is typically a sign that something’s going wrong in your mouth. The best way to avoid issues like gum disease is to brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time, floss every day, avoid sugary and acidic foods, and visit your dentist regularly. You should also avoid smoking, which can contribute to gum disease and cancer. Finally, if you notice that your gums change color after taking a new medication, ask your doctor for possible alternatives.
If you notice that your gums have turned purple or brown, we highly suggest that you visit a doctor as soon as possible. While it could be a natural occurrence, it may also be a serious warning sign. Better safe than sorry! If you’re in Chicago, contact us to make an appointment at Chicago’s number one dentistry. We’ll help you figure out what’s going on with your gums and put you on a path to making them look normal and healthy again.

Have People Always Cleaned Their Teeth Throughout History?

June 30th, 2016

Have People Always Cleaned Their Teeth Throughout History?You might consider brushing and flossing your teeth everyday a pain. But it’s definitely not as painful as it used to be. Throughout history, humans have experimented with a variety of different tools and ingredients to clean their teeth, including bones and oyster shells. The toothbrushes, toothpastes and floss we use today were created relatively recently.
Let’s take a step back a few thousand years and take a look at how our ancestors used to try to keep their teeth in decent shape.

Ancient Toothbrushes

Some of the first evidence experts have found of toothbrushes dates back to 3,500 to 3,000 BC. Before that, people tended to use cloth and water to wash their teeth. They added abrasives like chalk and salt to keep their teeth polished.
Babylonians and Egyptians are thought to be two of the first groups of people to use a toothbrush-like tool. Archeologists have found twigs split and frayed at the end to create a sort of brush in the tombs of Egyptians. We can thank the Chinese for the invention of natural bristles in the 15th century. People in China created bristles from pig necks and attached them to bones or bamboo, which they used as handles to hold.
This Chinese toothbrush design caught on in Europe, as Europeans created their own version of toothbrushes with gentler horsehair bristles. Toothbrush design continued to improve, with William Addis creating a toothbrush handle from cattle bone and a brush with swine bristles in England around 1780. Bristles made with animal parts were finally replaced with nylon bristles in 1938.

Toothpastes and Powders Back in the Day

Toothpastes were used to keep our ancestor’s teeth and gums clean well before toothbrushes were created. Ancient Egyptians used ox hoof powder, burnt eggshells and ashes to keep their mouths clean and breath fresh. Greeks and Romans chose clean their teeth with rougher ingredients, like oyster shells and ground bones.
The Chinese tended to use ginseng, salt and herbal mint to keep their pearly whites clean. (We’ll take ancient Chinese toothpaste over Greek toothpaste any day.) These older toothpastes were actually more like powders. The more modern paste was created in the 1850s in England. Soap, chalk, betel nut, and crushed charcoal were among many ingredients used to create teeth-cleaning paste in England.

Flossing History

If you think flossing is hard today, try doing it with a pointed stick. (Actually, don’t. You could seriously injure yourself.) A few thousand years ago, our ancestors used to try to stick pointed sticks, horsehair, and twigs between their teeth to get food particles and other gunk out.
An American dentist named Dr. Levi Spear Parmly decided to improve on these ancient techniques with the introduction of waxed silk thread as floss. He also suggested that people floss every day. Unwaxed silk floss was created in 1882 and nylon replaced silk in dental floss in the 1940s.
Next time you don’t want to clean your teeth, just think about what the Greeks and Romans had to go through! Thankfully, we’ve come a long way. Nowadays, we have documented the proper brushing technique for healthy teeth and the best tools to get the job done. If you have any questions on your teeth- and gum-cleaning techniques, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Signs You Need Gum Disease Treatment Therapy

June 2nd, 2016

Signs You Need Gum Disease Treatment TherapyGum disease is no joke. Not only can it be hard to detect if you don’t know what to look for, but gum disease can also cause serious problems down the road. Don’t think you have it? Well, The New York Times notes that more than 75% of American adults have some form of gum disease. It’s important to know the signs of gum disease so that you can get treated before it causes some serious damage. If you do have signs of gum disease, you might need gum disease treatment therapy.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is also called periodontal disease. There are two forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that isn’t a serious issue. But unfortunately, it can lead to the more serious periodontitis if left untreated. When you have gingivitis, plaque causes your gums to turn red, become swollen and bleed. You may not even notice that you have gingivitis since it can cause little or no discomfort. Thankfully, it is reversible. That’s why it’s important to take care of your teeth daily and see your dentist regularly.
Periodontitis is really bad news. This more serious type of gum disease occurs when plaque grows below your gum line. The toxins from bacteria in your plaque begin to irritate your gums. These toxins cause your mouth to attack itself, leading your gums to work themselves away from teeth. The holes that are left become infected and your gums and bone begin decomposing.
This can eventually lead to tooth loss and serious bone loss. Periodontitis has also been linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, low birth weight and preterm birth babies, pulmonary diseases, obesity, and pancreatic cancer.

Signs You May Need Gum Disease Treatment Therapy

  • Gums bleeding while you are eating, brushing or flossing
  • Receding gums or gums that are pulling away from your teeth
  • Sores growing in your mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Teeth that are separating from your gums
  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away
  • Puss in between your gums and teeth
  • Teeth that no longer fit together the same way

 

[caption id="attachment_2486" align="alignleft" width="300"]Before Gum Disease Treatment Therapy at Water Tower Dental Care Before Gum Disease Treatment Therapy[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2485" align="alignright" width="300"]After Gum Disease Treatment Therapy at Water Tower Dental Care After Gum Disease Treatment Therapy[/caption]

How Gum Disease Treatment Therapy Works

If you have gingivitis, you don’t need gum disease treatment therapy. Simply brushing and flossing at home, along with an effective treatment from a dental professional, can reverse gingivitis and keep you from getting periodontitis.
Once you get into the dangerous territory of periodontitis, you may need gum disease treatment therapy. At Water Tower Dental Care, our gum disease specialist treats periodontitis with non-surgical and surgical techniques. We do this to alleviate gum disease and reattach your gum and teeth. We may use both traditional hand instrumentation, ultrasonic scaling and diode lasers. We recommend diode lasers to reduce and eliminate bacteria, prevent the spread of infection and to allow for a more comfortable procedure.
Gum disease treatment therapy helps to stop periodontitis from developing and reverses it. It’s imperative that you get treated as soon as possible before you run into serious tooth and bone issues. Contact us to find out if you have gum disease and how you can stop it. We want to protect your mouth from the perils of plaque.
 
 

How Does Laughing Gas Make You Feel?

April 14th, 2016

How Does Laughing Gas Make You Feel?All the way back in 1772, chemist Joseph Priestley created laughing gas, otherwise known as nitrous oxide. It was soon discovered the gas could relieve pain. But it was not a strong enough sedation to keep people feeling good through major surgeries. That’s why it’s the perfect choice for minor dental treatments and people who have dentist anxiety.

Laughing gas was given its nickname because it makes people feel euphoric, so it’s nothing to be worried about in a dental setting. Let’s take a closer look at exactly how laughing gas might make you feel before you step into the dentist’s office.

How Does Laughing Gas Make You Feel?

Unlike different types of sedation used in surgery, laughing gas isn’t very intense. The right dosage will likely make you feel euphoric, lightheaded, tingling and warm, and it will reduce the amount of pain you feel. Since laughing gas makes you so happy, it can also make you laugh more easily (thus the name). Most importantly, laughing gas makes you feel relaxed so that you can have a comfortable dental experience. Typically, you start feeling these sensations a few seconds after you inhale laughing gas.

What Exactly is Laughing Gas?

So what exactly makes you feel this way? After all, you don’t really want to be deeply inhaling a gas you know nothing about. Like we said earlier, laughing gas is technically known as nitrous oxide. The gas we dentists use is a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen. It’s proven to be safe when used for the short amount of time you’ll be sitting in the dentist chair.
Nitrous oxide is known to depress your senses, like hearing, touch and pain. This is perfect for when you're receiving dental treatments. You won’t have to hear or feel any scraping or drilling and can relax until we’ve fixed up your teeth.
As long as your dentist doesn’t give you too much, you should feel pleasant and happy sensations. You’ll know if your dentist has given you too much if you start falling asleep and/or feeling nauseous. If you do start feeling these unpleasant sensations, simply let your dentist know or take off your mask. When you take off your mask, all of the sensations will subside.

How is it Administered at the Dentist and What is it Used For?

When you’re receiving laughing gas in the dentist chair, you will almost always be wearing a mask. This mask is connected to a supply of compressed gases, which flow through tubes to your mask and mouth. Your dentist will be carefully watching the gauges to make sure you are receiving the correct amount of gas. At Water Tower Dental Care, we do this almost every day, so we’re experts.
Here at our offices, we typically use sedation dentistry to treat people who match the following descriptions:

  • Have a sensitive gag reflex
  • Are anxious or afraid of dental treatments and/or instruments
  • Don’t get numb from local anesthetics
  • Experience health issues, including neck and back pain, while they are sitting in the dentist’s chair.

You should never skip out on visiting the dentist because you’re anxious or experience any of the issues above. If you’re feeling worried about seeing us, please contact us! We would love to help you have the most comfortable dental experience ever with laughing gas, or another oral sedative.

How Chicago's Sun Affects Your Teeth

March 17th, 2016

How Chicago's Sun Affects Your TeethSpring is a beautiful time of year, especially in Chicago. We boast some of the best temperatures during this time, perfect for visiting Millennium Park or heading to Wrigley Field. When the sun comes out during these glorious days, you will more often than not find yourself applying sunscreen to avoid those nasty burns. The sun is something that warms us to our core, yet too much of it can be dangerous to our skin.
Does too much exposure to the sun affect our pearly whites as well? Here, we attempt to find out, so you don’t find yourself spending most of your time standing under the bean, keeping your teeth (and skin) safe!

What is Tooth Decay?

Before we discuss the connection between Chicago’s sun and your pearly whites, it’s important to understand tooth decay. Like your skin, your teeth are probably one of your most prized possessions (Here at Water Tower Dental Care, they’re definitely ours!). Teeth play an extremely important role in the health of your body. Tooth decay has been shown to lead to other health problems, if infected matter makes its way into your bloodstream. Overall, bad oral health can lead to health risks beyond your mouth, including heart disease and more!

The Link Between Vitamin D and Oral Health

Some studies have shown that tooth decay is the most common in late winter and the first few weeks of spring. This is because you will have the lowest exposure to Vitamin D during those times. Vitamin D, a vitamin produced in the skin when exposed to ultraviolet B light from the sun, is very healthy for your body overall. Vitamin D can help fight off bacterial infections in your body, especially the ones caused by tooth decay.

How Vitamin D Helps Strengthen Your Teeth

While Vitamin D cannot contribute anything to your teeth directly, Vitamin D’s main contribution comes when it interacts with Calcium, which makes your teeth and bones strong. While calcium strengthens your body, the body does not easily absorb it. This is where Vitamin D comes in, as it serves as a catalyst for calcium absorption, making you stronger than ever before and helping you absorb the most calcium possible from the foods you eat!
The more you are in the sun, the more Vitamin D your body will produce, and the more calcium levels in your body will rise. Vitamin D helps indirectly fight off gum disease, by strengthening the bones around your teeth. In conclusion, Vitamin D leads to stronger teeth, which helps fight off bacterial infections.

Conclusion

To summarize, being in the sun might not be as bad as you might have thought! While you should still be sure to wear sunscreen during Chicago’s warm summer months, the cool temperatures we currently have are perfect for enjoying Navy Pier, the Riverwalk, and more.
While you’re outside in these comfortable months, let Vitamin D and calcium do the work, strengthening your teeth and your bones. Your teeth may be strong, but don’t skip out on a check-up just because the sun is out! Contact us today!

How to Identify Mouth Cancer vs. Canker Sore

February 4th, 2016

How to Identify Mouth Cancer vs. Canker SoreFinding a strange change in your mouth can be scary. You might not know why a mark has appeared, how long it will be there, or what it is. Since it could be a variety of different things, ranging from harmless to more serious, it’s important to visit a dentist or doctor when you find an unfamiliar sore or spot in your mouth.
In the meantime, you might want to get a better idea of two common but very different types of oral issues that often get confused: mouth cancer and canker sores. Today, our dentists are going to break down the difference between mouth cancer and canker sores so that you can better identify what’s going on in your mouth.

What Mouth Cancer Looks Like

Surprising to many, mouth cancer can grow in your mouth just like it can anywhere else in your body. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), those who use tobacco and/or drink are more likely to develop mouth cancer, as are people over the age of 44 and, more specifically, men. HPV is also the leading cause of cancer at the very back of the mouth and throat (technically known as oropharyngeal cancer).
Mouth cancer typically affects your cheeks, lips, tongue, or throat. It usually shows up as flat, white patches on any of those areas. These patches are made up of cells that can lead to cancer. Mixed red and white patches and bright red patches are also signs of trouble.
Mouth cancer patches can be rough and hard to scrape off. These areas can also be benign, but it’s always important to have a dentist check to make sure.
Mouthcancer.org also notes that painless ulcers, or canker sores, that don’t heal can be a form of mouth cancer.  The ADA suggests getting your mouth checked out if signs and symptoms of mouth cancer persist after two weeks.
Finally, cancer in the throat may cause symptoms such as difficult or painful swallowing, a swollen but painless tonsil, an ongoing sore throat or hoarse voice, a painless lump on the outside of your neck that has been there for at least two weeks, and constant coughing, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.

What Canker Sores Look Like

Unlike mouth cancer, minor canker sores are virtually harmless, except for the annoying discomfort they can cause your mouth. They may be caused by several things, including stress, hormonal shifts, food sensitivities, and toothpaste, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The defining difference between canker sores and mouth cancer is pain. Canker sores can be extremely painful. Thankfully, the pain tends to lessen over a few days, and the sore usually heals up by itself within two weeks.
Canker sores also look different than patchy mouth cancer. A canker sore looks like an ulcer or sore. They are typically round with a depressed center and may appear to be white, grey or yellow. The outer rim of the canker sore is typically red.
If you have a canker sore that doesn’t heal within three weeks, you should see a dentist, according to DentalHealth.org. Mouth cancer can appear in the form of an ulcer.
Do you have a sore you would like us to take a look at in Chicago? Contact Water Tower Dental Care! We’re experts on identifying mouth cancer vs. canker sores.

How A Pretty Smile Can Transform Your Social & Professional Life

January 14th, 2016

How A Pretty Smile Can Transform Your Social & Professional LifeIt’s easy to think of teeth simply as a tool for chewing food. But they do a lot more than that. Truth is, studies have shown that the condition and appearance of your teeth can transform your social and professional life. So taking that extra trip to the dentist could help you land that job you’ve been dreaming of or a date with a special someone. Let’s take a look at exactly how a gorgeous smile can improve your life now.

Nail That Job Interview

In a job interview, first impressions are everything. Surprisingly enough, about one-third of Americans say that the first part of a face they notice is teeth, according to a perception study developed by Kelton Research. Even more interesting, 24% say that teeth are the part of the face they remember the most after meeting someone. Bad teeth could leave a bad impression, which means no job for you.
Along the same lines, Americans think that people with straight teeth are 45% more likely to get a job than someone with crooked teeth when competing against a person who has a similar skill set and experience.

Bring Home More Bacon

The benefits of gorgeous teeth in the professional world don’t stop at the job interview. Research by Daniel Hamermesh, professor of economics at the University of Texas, found that people who are better looking than average earn 5 to 10 percent more than people who have average looks. People with average looks earn 5 to 10 percent more than people whose looks are below average. In an article by Deseret News, Hamermesh says that teeth are an important component to physical appearance.

Spice Up Your Love Life

If you’re looking for a spark in your love life, improving your teeth might just be the answer. Kelton Research found that people with straight teeth were seen as 57% more likely to find a date on a dating site than people with crooked teeth based on their picture alone. Nearly two in five Americans would consider not going on a second date with someone who has misaligned teeth.

Become A Social Butterfly

Life isn’t all about work and love. Friends can keep you from feeling lonely and help you stay on the right track. And teeth can help you make friends! Having nice teeth can cause you to appear to be trustworthier and have a good personality. Nearly three in four Americans are more likely to trust a person with a nice smile than someone with a good job, clothes or car, according to Kelton Research. People with straight teeth also are 21% more likely to appear to be happy, 47% more likely to be seen as healthy, and 38% more likely to be viewed as smart. Sounds like a good friend to us!
Who would’ve thought a smile could affect your life in so many ways? If you’re ready to transform your life for the better through your pearly whites, contact Water Tower Dental Care today! As the top general and cosmetic dentist in Chicago, we would love to get your teeth looking better than ever.

Signs That An Eating Disorder May Be Damaging Your Teeth

November 5th, 2015

Signs That An Eating Disorder May Be Damaging Your TeethYou might be surprised that a dental office is writing about eating disorders. But eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia nervosa can devastate your teeth, gums and overall oral health. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), about 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder for a period of time in their lives in the US. That’s a lot of people suffering with a disorder that can seriously damage not only your teeth, but your entire life.
Dentists are often the first people to discover that a patient has an eating disorder because the signs are so obvious. We’re going to take a look at some of those signs today.

What are eating disorders?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders are illnesses that cause extreme changes to your daily diet, such as eating very small amounts of food everyday or severe overeating. A person with an eating disorder may be able to alter their diet with small changes at first, but at some point the urge to eat less or more becomes uncontrollable.
Some of the most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating. Anorexia nervosa usually involves a severe and distorted fear of becoming fat or gaining weight. People with anorexia may not be fat at all, or may even be underweight. This fear can lead the person to undereat, exercise excessively, or purge after eating by forcing themselves to throw up or use laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.
Bulimia nervosa typically involves seemingly uncontrollable overeating (binging) followed by purging with self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, or using laxatives, diuretics or enemas.
The American Dental Association notes that eating disorders are caused by various physical, emotional and social issues and focus on body image, food and weight, along with many other issues. Eating disorders are much more complicated than whether someone is overweight, underweight or anywhere in between.

What are some signs that an eating disorder is damaging your teeth?

Eating disorders can wreak havoc on your entire body, including your teeth. While it may be hard for parents to tell if their child has an eating disorder, it’s typically obvious to dentists after a certain period of time. Many of the dental issues that come along with eating disorders are caused by stomach acids damaging your teeth as a result of vomiting. But nutritional deficiencies caused by under eating are also terrible for your dental health.
Here are a few signs that an eating disorder is damaging your oral health and teeth:

  • Xerostomia, or dry mouth symptom, caused by enlarged salivary glands
  • Tooth decay and enamel erosion, especially in the inside of the upper front teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity, thinning and chipping due to enamel erosion
  • Tooth discoloration and/or change in the shape or size of your teeth
  • Mouth sores that may bleed easily
  • Bleeding gums
  • Tender mouth and throat
  • Dry, red and cracked lips

Treating eating disorders

Though your dentist may be able to temporarily improve the dental damage caused by eating disorders, there’s not much they can do to heal your teeth in the long run if the eating disorder continues. The best thing you can do is see an experienced and skilled therapist that specializes in eating disorders. Since eating disorders are complicated and vary from person to person, it’s very important that someone who suffers with an eating disorder speak with an expert as soon as possible.
To reduce the effects of purging on your teeth, don’t brush your teeth right after you vomit. The acids from your stomach erode your enamel, and brushing your teeth immediately afterwards can make enamel erosion even worse. Instead, immediately wash out your mouth with club soda, a sugar-free mouthwash, or, as a last resort, water. This will help neutralize the stomach acids. 30 minutes later, gently brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
If you think you might have an eating disorder, it’s important that you seek professional help as soon as possible before irreversible damage is done. Along with damaging your relationships, mental health, self-esteem, and physical body, eating disorders can also result in death.
Please don’t be afraid to visit Water Tower Dental Care or contact us if you’re worried about how your diet is affecting your teeth and oral health. We have seen many patients with eating disorders and would love to inspect your mouth to let you know how your teeth are doing.
We also work with a Behavioral Health Care Center in our office that specializes in eating disorders, called ASCENDchc. Together, we can put you on the path to a healthier life.

5 Scariest Chompers from Horror Movies for Halloween

October 27th, 2015

Scariest Chompers from Horror Movies for HalloweenFrom teeth erosion revealing a little girl’s possession to shiny and strong pearly whites indicating fierce power, teeth play a surprisingly important role in many scary movies. With Halloween quickly approaching, we thought we’d document the scariest chompers from horror movies to set the mood for the most haunted night of them all. You might want to turn on the lights for this one.

The Exorcist

Regan MacNeil from The Exorcist

If you want to see a set of bad teeth, look no further than Regan MacNeil from The Exorcist. She’s a prime example of what you don’t want to happen to your pearly whites. Regan’s rotting teeth represent her rotting soul due to demonic possession. This is the movie to watch if you need motivation to brush and floss your teeth.
Jack Torrance from The Shining

Jack Torrance from The Shining

Unlike Regan, Jack Torrance from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining has a beautiful set of teeth. However, we only really get to admire them when he falls into madness. As Jack becomes more heavily influenced by the supernatural forces in the isolated hotel he is staying in, he begins to bare his teeth like an animal, showing aggression towards his innocent family.

Dracula 1958 Movie

Dracula

Dracula’s teeth are probably the most iconic in the world. Though his character has been reproduced several times over the years, Dracula’s incredibly white teeth and fierce fangs never cease to provoke horror in his audience. We dentists wish he had been a teeth model rather than a bloodsucking murderer.

Great White Shark from Jaws

Great White Shark from Jaws

As the title suggests, the shark from Jaws takes the crown for the biggest set of teeth on our list. Steven Spielberg’s classic thriller stars a man-eating great white shark that is rarely seen. But when the shark does burst into the shot, his massive and admirably white chompers take the audience’s focus.

Austin Powers

Austin Powers

Though not thought of as a horror movie to most, dentists like us cringe at Austin Powers’ hideous set of teeth. Not only are they crooked and protruding, but worst of all, they are discolored, showing years of neglect. These are the teeth of a man who has not taken proper care of his teeth. Behave, Austin.

Why Do Dentists Perform Saliva Tests?

September 10th, 2015

Why Do Dentists Perform Saliva Tests?If your dentist asks to collect a sample of your saliva, try not to be too weirded out. It’s actually very common for dentists to perform saliva tests. Saliva tests are extremely easy procedures that require almost nothing from you other than a little bit of your spit. Best of all, these simple tests can save you from developing severe dental issues in the future.
At Water Tower Dental Care, we perform three different types of saliva tests to find out if you have HPV and to analyze what is causing your gum disease.

Saliva Test to Detect HPV

The most common saliva test we offer is the OralRisk HPV test. We perform this test regularly as part of your routine oral health exam to detect if you have oral HPV (Human Papillomavirus). Though HPV can eventually be identified by skin lesions, such as warts or sores, saliva tests can identify HPV early on, even before you start showing physical symptoms. Catching HPV when it first develops allows your dentist to treat it more effectively and prevent it from getting worse, which is important because it can eventually develop into cancer.

What is HPV?

HPV is one of the most common virus groups in the world. The virus can vary, from being low risk and causing warts, to being high-risk and causing cancer. Medical research has found that 90% of cervical cancers are linked to specific high-risk HPV types, according to OralDNA Labs. HPV can be caused by sexual contact or simply by close contact with another person. Research is currently being conducted to discover what else may cause HPV.

Salvia Test for Gum Disease

Along with the OralRisk HPV test, we also use saliva tests to analyze which bacteria are triggering a patient’s gum disease, or periodontal disease. We usually recommend this test, which is called MyPerioPath, to patients who have moderate-to-severe gum disease, patients who are currently receiving treatment for gum disease and are not seeing ideal results, or patients who have a great oral hygiene routine but still deal with bleeding gums. The saliva test allow us to identify what type of bacteria is causing your gum disease so that we can create a customized hygiene treatment to help you get rid of the disease once and for all.
Finally, we perform MyPerioID PST saliva tests to see if our patients with gum disease have any specific changes in their DNA, which could mean that they are at a greater risk of developing a more serious disease. This allows us to create a hygiene plan that will prevent those diseases.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is simply another word for gum disease. In its most moderate state, it can be identified in the form of gum inflammation. If left untreated, it can develop into a severe disease that causes severe damage to your gums, teeth and bone. According to the FDA, 75% of all Americans over age 35 have some form of gum disease. Crazy, right? Some studies show that gum disease can also affect your overall health, not just your oral health. Gum disease is mostly caused by bad oral hygiene techniques, but can also develop as a result of smoking or chewing tobacco, crooked teeth, hormonal changes, stress, cancer, cancer treatment, poor diet, diabetes, medication, and through exchanging saliva with someone who has gum disease.

What Are Saliva Treatments Like?

Saliva treatments will probably be one of the easiest and quickest treatments you’ve ever experienced as a patient. All you have to do is swish a sterile saline solution around in your mouth for about 30 seconds. Then, you simply spit into a tube or a small container and your work is done! We’ll send the sample to OralDNA Labs and they’ll process it. When we get the results, we’ll contact you to discuss them. That’s all there is to it.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve received a saliva test for HPV or you think that you might have gum disease, come on into Water Tower Dental Care on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. We’d love to give you the information you need to keep your teeth healthy with a customized hygiene treatment plan.

What is the Difference Between Caps, Crowns, Veneers, Inlays and Fillings?

August 13th, 2015

What is the Difference Between Caps, Crowns, Veneers, Onlays and Fillings?From putting on caps to placing dental veneers, dentists do a lot of interesting things to keep your teeth in tip-top shape. If you live your daily life outside of the dental world, you might find all of the stuff we do to be a bit confusing. We’re here to break down some of the most popular cosmetic dental treatments we offer at Water Tower Dental Care to help you better understand which procedures can best help your smile. Here’s the difference between caps, crowns, veneers, onlays, inlays and fillings.
Dental Crowns and Caps are actually the same thing. Dentists place crowns, or caps, on a tooth for three reasons: when it needs more strength, to keep two parts of a cracked tooth together, or to add material to a broken tooth or a worn down tooth. Typically, the materials used include metal, porcelain or a variety of the two. Learn about our CEREC One-Visit Crowns here!
Dental Veneers are used for purely cosmetic purposes, masking crooked, gapped, chipped, broken, worn down, stained or oddly-shaped teeth. Veneers are extremely thin pieces of porcelain or resin composite materials that are bonded to the front surface of your teeth to make them look better. We offer Minimal Prep and Porcelain Veneers at our Chicago dentist office.
Onlays are used to fill in large cavities that are too severe for a normal filling, but not severe enough to require a crown. Onlays cover one or more of the rounded edges of your teeth, or your entire tooth’s chewing surface. They can look just like your natural tooth and are typically made up of gold, porcelain or composite metal. Onlays require your dentist to remove less of your natural tooth than crowns. This is why they are sometimes called partial crowns.
Dental Inlays are used for the same purpose as onlays, but only fill in the space between the rounded edges of your tooth, at the center of its chewing surface. They fill in a tooth that is too damaged for a filling, but not so severe that it needs a crown.
Fillings are used to replace decayed portions of your tooth (cavities) with fillers, such as gold, porcelain, silver amalgam, composite resin fillings or tooth-colored plastic. Fillings can also be used to fix and improve the appearance of broken or worn-down teeth.
Now you’re one step closer to becoming a dental expert! If you have any more questions about your teeth or dental solutions, feel free to chat with us. We would love to help put you on a better path to a healthy smile for the rest of your life with better knowledge about your teeth.

Summer Loving: How Kissing Affects Your Teeth, Gums and Mouth

July 23rd, 2015

Summer Loving: How Kissing Affects Your Teeth, Gums and Mouth With long sunny days outdoors and exotic vacations, ‘tis the season for love. And with love comes lots of smooching! When you’re in the moment with your loved one, we’re guessing that you aren’t thinking about how your kisses are affecting your mouth. Interestingly though, kisses really do impact your oral health, both positively and negatively. Our experts are here to tell you how exactly kissing does this with juicy detail. We’ll start with the bad news first.

The Ugly Oral Health Side to Kissing

Unfortunately, kissing can cause some bad stuff to go on in your mouth. Let’s take a look at a couple of the most common ways kissing can go wrong.
You can get herpes from kissing. You don’t need to go any further than kissing to catch an STD. Herpes infection viruses can be spread through your saliva, causing cold sores or blisters on your lips, around your mouth or even inside your mouth. Though they are typically harmless, they can get pretty annoying. Worst of all, there’s no cure. So be careful who you kiss!
Bad bacteria can increase your chance of developing gum disease. If your kissing partner has gum disease, or periodontitis, you’re getting their bad bacteria inside your mouth when you kiss. In fact, you’re sharing around 80 million bacteria with them! The worse the bacteria in their mouth are, the worse it will affect your mouth.
Don’t let these two issues scare you away from kissing. As long as you and your partner take care of your mouth and teeth, and communicate any oral diseases that you have, you shouldn’t be surprised with any unhealthy oral developments. In fact, kissing is typically great for your oral health, as you’ll see below.

Healthy Kissing is Good for Your Teeth, Gums and Mouth!

Your dentist orders you to keep kissing your partner! Well, as long as they have good oral health. Here’s why:
More saliva means fewer cavities. While you’re kissing, your salivary glands begin producing more saliva. Saliva is made up of water, electrolytes, mucus, glycoproteins, enzymes and antibacterial compounds that do lots of good things, including neutralize acids in your mouth, fight off bacteria and wash away food particles. All of these changes will lead to less tooth erosion, which means your dentist should find less cavities in your teeth.
Saliva protects your tooth enamel. Saliva is amazing. Along with fighting off bacteria and acids, the mineral salts in your saliva help rebuild the minerals in your tooth enamel, protecting your teeth from erosion and cavities.
More salvia means healthier cheeks and gums. Your gums and cheeks typically heal more quickly than your skin thanks to your saliva. According to Discover Magazine, proteins like vascular endothelial growth factor help to trigger the formation of blood vessels, which boosts your mouth’s healing processes.
Sharing kisses boosts your immune system. During a quick, 10-second kiss, you transfer as much as 80 million bacteria to your partner. But don’t let that stop you from smooching. It’s actually good for you! According to a study from the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, sharing these bacteria during a kiss boosts your immune system, keeping you healthy.
So there you have it! You have our approval to keep kissing a healthy mouth all summer long. If you or your partner needs a cleanup before a smooch session, feel free to stop by Water Tower Dental Care on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile! We’ll not only make your mouth sparkling clean, but we’ll also make sure it looks picture perfect for your partner with our cosmetic dentistry treatments.

Does Teeth Whitening Cause Enamel Loss?

July 2nd, 2015

Does Teeth Whitening Cause Enamel Loss?Sparkling white smiles are impressive - There’s no doubt about it. White teeth exude confidence, youth and healthiness, which is why so many people get their teeth whitened. But as the teeth whitening trend has picked up more and more steam, it’s important to ask yourself about the safety of teeth whitening treatments.

Many people avoid getting their teeth bleached because they worry that it will damage their enamel. Fortunately, as long as you follow your dentist’s directions and product labels, teeth whitening should not cause enamel loss or damage to your teeth. Here's what to look out for.

Enamel and Teeth Whitening

Nowadays, there are virtually limitless options when it comes to looking for teeth whitening kits and products online. You can find hundreds of products on Amazon alone. While this may sound like a good thing at first, some products out there aren’t ADA approved, and are made with dangerous ingredients that can damage your teeth and enamel.
It’s best to play it safe when it comes to whitening your teeth and consult a dentist. They will help you to choose a product that is safe for your specific smile and make sure that it works effectively. The best and safest way to whiten your teeth is to have a dentist do it for you. At Water Tower Dental Care in Chicago, we can dramatically whiten your teeth during one in-office treatment using Zoom! Whitening.
Before and After Zoom! Teeth Whitening at Water Tower Dental Care
But even if you use dentist-approved products, they can still cause enamel loss and erosion. You have to make sure that you’re following your dentist’s directions and the product’s label while whitening your teeth. Over-whitening can lead to teeth trouble.
And remember, it’s normal to feel a little tooth sensitivity after your teeth whitening treatment. This sensitivity doesn’t mean you’ve damaged your enamel. Rather, it’s caused by the treatment opening the channels within your teeth, which allows bleach to permeate your teeth and whiten them from the inside out. This side effect is only temporary.

Who Shouldn’t Get Their Teeth Whitened?

Just because everyone can get their teeth whitened doesn’t mean they should. Teeth whitening treatments can damage teeth that have certain problems. You should speak to a dentist before bleaching your teeth if you have sensitive teeth, worn enamel or gum disease. There are also several dental issues that cause discoloration, but should be fixed by addressing the root of the problem rather than masked with teeth whitening treatments. These include root canal issues, tooth decay and abscessed teeth. Also, if you have exposed roots that are discolored, bleaching won’t be able to help much because they are more resistant to the treatment.

Teeth Whitening Results

Your teeth-bleaching results depend on the type of treatment used and your individual set of teeth. Some of our patients’ glistening results last for 6 months, while others’ can last for up to 10 years! Typically, your teeth will remain beautifully white between 6 months to 2 years. Then you’ll have to get them whitened again. As of right now, no teeth whitening solution is permanent. But hopefully, that will change one day!
Interested in learning more about teeth whitening? Reach out to us on Facebook! We would love to answer your questions directly and help you get the standout smile of your dreams.

Baby Teething Tips: Do Amber Teething Necklaces Work?

April 16th, 2015

Baby Teething Tips: Do Amber Teething Necklaces Work?It’s hard to see your baby in pain while they’re teething. There’s no doubt about it. Parents are always looking for new ways to help their children feel better while their first set of teeth is growing in. To help give their babies an alternative teething relief, many parents have started using Amber Teething Necklaces.
These necklaces have been around for a while, but have continued to become more and more popular in the US over the years. All over the Internet, parents claim that these necklaces have done miracles for their baby’s discomfort. In reality, though, there is no concrete evidence that they work, and they pose a hazard to young children’s health.

How Are Amber Teething Necklaces Supposed to Work?

Manufacturers claim that amber is a natural European teething remedy for babies between the ages of 3 months and 2 years. While the necklace is worn around a baby’s neck, the warmth of the baby’s body is said to release natural healing oils from the amber. After these oils are supposedly absorbed by the baby’s skin and transported into the bloodstream, they are said to relieve pain and other common teething symptoms, such as swollen gums, fevers and red cheeks. Succinct acid is supposed to be the primary healing component in amber.

Does the Amber Teething Necklace Actually Work?

Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that amber teething necklaces actually work. In fact, in a study published in 2012 in The Archives of Pediatrics, researchers describe the teething necklace as “ineffective,” a “quack remedy,” and “dangerous.”
In an interview with the New York Times, Pediatrician Dr. Natasha Burgert says that there are two major risks when it comes to babies wearing amber teething necklaces: strangulation and choking. The Center for Disease Control notes that unintentional suffocation is the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injury among infants and young children - the same age group that would be wearing the necklaces. To be fair, many amber necklaces come with safety clasps and knotting features to reduce the risk of suffocation. However, it’s not worth the potential hazard, especially when there are other proven and safe remedies out there for teething.

Other Teething Remedies

We here at Water Tower Dental Care suggest using these traditional and proven teething techniques, rather than the potentially hazardous amber teething necklaces.

  • Rubber Teething Rings: Choose toys that are safely designed for a teething baby. The pressure of the baby chewing on the ring will help soothe their painful gums.
  • Light Massage: Lightly massaging your baby’s gums with clean hands can help them feel better, at least temporarily.
  • Cold and Flexible Stuff: Cold objects work as an anesthetic to pain. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests giving a teething child cold spoons, clean and wet washcloths, frozen bagels or refrigerated teething rings. Just make sure to keep an eye on your child when they use these objects and make sure they’re safe.
  • Medication: The American Academy of Pediatrics states that acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen can be used for severe pain, but parents should get instruction on safe dosing first. Avoid using benzocaine-containing teething gels for infants or children under 2 years old.

Teething isn’t fun for children or adults. But hopefully, the safe solutions above help to make this process a little bit easier. If you’re worried about your baby’s teeth, free to bring them into Water Tower Dental Care, Chicago’s #1 rated dentistry. We would love to help you put your child on a path to a healthy, bright smile.

What Happens When Your Teeth Get Old?

April 2nd, 2015

What Happens When Your Teeth Get Old?Just as you might expect, as the rest of your body ages, your teeth age as well. So what exactly happens to your teeth as they get older and what can you do now to help them out?

The Biggest Threat to Your Teeth

From the first day a tooth pops out of your gums as a child to the last day you have them, the biggest threat to your teeth is acid erosion. This is caused by the sugars and carbohydrates in your mouth that provide food for the bacteria in your mouth. In turn, that bacteria produce acids that can easily wear away the enamel of your teeth. The result of this process is the tiny pits that can widen to become cavities.
As a kid, this might not seem like a big deal, but as you grow older, you’ll want to work at preserving your teeth as much as possible for old age.
While candy and its sugar is a top offender, beware of sweetened carbonated drinks and starchy carbohydrates. All of these foods can cause serious wear to the enamel of your teeth.

Preventing Chips and Cracks

Surprisingly, as you age, your teeth do not become more brittle. They stay as strong as ever. However, if something happens to your tooth that requires medical attention, it could take longer to heal. For example, you could accidentally crack your tooth by biting into ice. Replacing or capping an elderly person’s tooth can cause more pain for extended time compared to a younger person.
This doesn’t mean an older person should start eating mush. It just means they need to be careful and conscious of what they eat.

Keeping Teeth White

Some older patients experience stained teeth. This is mostly a cosmetic issue, though if enough organic compounds from the stain build up, it can cause enamel wear. It’s important to keep your teeth looking as white as possible, at least for their own protection. Make sure to avoid foods that can stain your teeth as much as possible along with using whitening toothpaste every so often. As well, you can visit your dentist for cleanings that will help with the color of your teeth.

Protect Your Gums

The biggest issue that can arise from older age is gum disease. It can happen at any age, but the older you get, the more likely it will happen. When you’re older, your gums are weakened, and there are often more pockets for bacteria to hide. Left untreated, bacterial infections can cause inflamed gums and even bleeding. To prevent gum disease, make sure to floss once a day, brush at least twice, use an antibacterial mouthwash, and eat foods that are good for your gums.
Old age doesn’t mean your teeth are going to fall out and you’ll need dentures. Bad oral health care can lead to your teeth falling out. If you care for your teeth and gums by brushing and flossing, eating the right foods, avoiding sugars, and visiting your dentist on a regular basis, you can have a healthy smile for your entire life.

Busting 9 Flossing Myths With Dental Facts

March 12th, 2015

Busting 9 Common Flossing Myths With Dental FactsMany people are reluctant to floss, for one reason or another. However one convinces themselves, the reasons one avoids flossing is probably wrong. There are many myths about flossing that can easily be busted with a simple explanation. These are nine myths that tend to keep people from flossing, but should stop no one.

1. If My Gums Bleed I Should Stop Flossing

This is a big myth that can keep many people from flossing everyday. They think that they are hurting themselves by flossing, causing their gums to bleed. In fact, it’s the opposite. Your gums bleed because the bacteria growing between your teeth have inflamed your gums. If you floss daily and visit a dentist for cleanings, your gums will bleed less and less until the bacteria is cleared out and they stop bleeding altogether.

2. Flossing Will Loosen Fillings

Flossing is necessary with any kind of dental work, including fillings, crowns, veneers, bridges, and more. Dental work becomes necessary when one doesn’t floss enough. Any kind of dental work needs extra care. Flossing everyday is absolutely necessary.

3. I Cannot Floss With Braces

Though it may be harder to floss with braces, it is necessary. With braces, gums are more likely to become inflamed and infected.

4. I Cannot Floss Because My Teeth are Too Close Together

At Water Tower Dental Care, we can attest that we have never had a patient that has had teeth too close together to floss. Of course some teeth are closer than others and it can be difficult to floss. There is specific thinner floss that one can purchase to solve this issue, but from our experience, this is an excuse more than an actual problem.

5. Flossing Takes Too Much Time

Though some people may have busier mornings than others, there is always time to floss. You can floss in the morning, afternoon, or night—any time of the day. Proper flossing should take no more than two to three minutes. If someone doesn’t have two to three minutes to spare in their day, they may have bigger problems to deal with, though we doubt anyone is that busy.

6. A Waterpik Does the Same Job

Many think that a waterpik can take the place of flossing. Though a waterpik is a very useful tool, it cannot do as good of a job as floss. A waterpik should be used in conjunction with flossing, not as a replacement.

7. I Use Mouthwash Instead of Floss

Just like a waterpik, while mouthwash definitely helps, it is adjunct to floss. Mouthwash is better for loosening plaque, killing bacteria, and freshening breath, but it cannot take the place of floss.

8. There’s No Food In My Teeth, So I Don’t Need to Floss

First, food can be hard to detect in the far reaches of your teeth. Unless you have advanced mirror and lighting technologies to see far into the back reaches of your teeth, it is impossible to say if there’s food between your teeth. More importantly, floss does not just remove food from your teeth, it also helps remove plaque that is built up between them. This plaque is what can cause gum disease and cavities. It is the main reason you floss.

9. Flossing Is Not Fun

Though you may not find it fun at first, flossing will become a rewarding and pleasurable experience the more you do it. You will become more used to the process, and it will feel good to make the space between your teeth clean and smooth.

What Are The Different Types of Teeth?

March 5th, 2015

What are the different types of teeth?It’s a surprise at how little many people think about their teeth until a true problem arises. Teeth are often ignored and given little care until it’s too late. The best thing a person can do for their teeth is to educate themselves on the proper care as well as their simple structure. Many people don’t even realize they have several different types of teeth. Today, we’d like to help our readers by listing the different types of teeth and how they help you every day.
Each type of tooth in your mouth comes in a slightly different shape to help perform its job within the mouth.

Incisors

The incisors are the eight teeth that line the front center of your mouth. Four on the top and four on the bottom of your mouth. These teeth are primarily used for taking the first bite into food, however many also use them for nail biting and opening packages (two big no no’s). As a child, these are the first teeth that tend to erupt and become exposed. This typically happens when babies are 6-months-old for the first set and between 6 and 8 years of age for the second set.

Types of Adult Teeth ChartCanines

You have four canines, one on each side of your incisors. Canines are the sharpest of your teeth. While incisors usually take the first bite of food, canines are the ones to really tear the food apart. Canines appear second in the order of teeth for children, the first set appear around 16 to 20 months with the top canines arriving first. However, the top canines arrive second when the second set grow in, usually between 11 and 12 years of age.

Premolars

Premolars, also known as bicuspids, are used for the chewing and grinding of the foods you eat. Premolars are placed on the side of your mouth, four on each side, two on the top and two on the bottom. Premolars are bigger and thicker than canines and incisors, but are just as susceptible to cavity and decay. Your first and only premolars arrive around the age of 10.

Molars

Molars are the largest of the teeth. They have a flat biting surface and are used primarily for chewing, grinding, and crushing food. The first set of molars come in between 12 and 15 months and are replaced by the permanent premolars (these are known as deciduous molars). The first set of permanent molars appear around the age of 6, and the second set between 11 and 13 years old.

Third Molars

More commonly known as wisdom teeth, these are the last teeth to develop between the ages of 18 and 20. While some people never develop wisdom teeth at all, others need them removed to prevent crowding.
Knowing the different types and uses for your teeth can help you care for them as well as use them properly. For more questions about your teeth type or anything dental related, do not hesitate to contact Water Tower Dental Care, voted Chicago’s number 1 dental office.

5 Causes of Yellow Teeth and What You Can Do About It

October 2nd, 2014

5 Causes of Yellow Teeth and What You Can Do About ItYellow teeth are an unsightly issue that many of us would love to avoid. Beside the aesthetic reasons for wanting pearly white teeth, there are also health issues that coincide with having whiter teeth.
Your teeth are white thanks to a protective outer layer known as enamel. It protects your teeth from acid and bacteria, but when your teeth are improperly cared for, those acids can break down your enamel and make it translucent. Underneath your enamel is another layer known as dentin. While enamel may be white, dentin is naturally a yellow tone. When your enamel becomes translucent, you are exposing the colors of your dentin to the world.

The older you get, the more your enamel can be naturally worn down. This may be why your teeth are yellowing. However, if you’re still young and are experiencing yellowing of the teeth, it’s most likely caused by foods and liquids that are known to break down your enamel as well as stain your teeth, or by cigarettes. Some foods and drinks contain colored compounds that are able to adhere to your enamel surface and darken the color of your teeth. Here are five of the most common causes of yellow teeth.

Soda and ‘Sports Drinks'

Both the citric acids and the high amounts of sugar in colas, soft drinks, and so-called sports drinks wear down the layer of enamel on your teeth.
Cola is the worst culprit, with its ammonia-based caramel coloring that not only wears down your enamel, but can discolor your teeth as well. Even so, lighter colored soft drinks are just as harmful to your enamel. All of these kinds of liquids are best avoided or limited.

Hard Candy and Gummy Candy

These treats are loaded with acidic sugars that can easily breakdown the enamel on your teeth. What’s worst about these candies is that they stay in your mouth for an extended period of time, which allows the sugars to really do their worst.
Many of these candies can stain your teeth as well. In regards to candy you should avoid, a general rule is that if it can stain your tongue, it can probably stain your teeth.

Red Wine

While a glass of red wine can be a healthier choice than soft drinks, too much wine can break down enamel as well as stain your teeth. Red wine has very deep red colors, which are caused by the compounds polyphenols and tannins. These compounds are very good at staining teeth.

Coffee

We all love our morning coffee, and many of us can’t start a day without it. However, think twice about drinking coffee and leaving the house without brushing your teeth, as this acidic liquid can do a lot of damage to your teeth. The dark color is prime for staining teeth while the acidic attributes can hurt your enamel.

Cigarettes

A big culprit for yellowing teeth is the nicotine in cigarettes. Smoking has no health benefits, yet can very negatively impact the state of your teeth and other body parts. This is one to avoid altogether.
Of course, the best way to keep your teeth as white as possible is to avoiding these foods and drinks as much as possible, as well as cigarettes. When you do consume them, trying having a glass of water along with the food or drink to wash away any of the acids. Also, after consuming any of these foods or drinks, brushing your teeth will help keep the stains from setting as well as remove the acids that are trying to eat away at your enamel.
For more help with your yellowing teeth, contact Water Tower Dental. We can help guide you through best practices or offer our Zoom! Whitening process to bring your teeth back to the pearly white you love.
 

To Veneer or Not to Veneer

August 7th, 2013

after veneersMany patients question the need for veneers if they’re worth their time and money. More so, many patients fear the dentist enough that they avoid major treatments that can help give them the perfect smile. Veneers are one of the best options for a whiter, straighter, more beautiful smile. Today we'd like to outline some of the major concerns with Veneers and help you decide if they're worth it.

Process

Believe it or not, the procedure for porcelain veneers is much simpler than one may think. There is no major, invasive surgery and the patient only experiences minimal discomfort during the procedure.
However, the process starts several visits before the final veneers are added.

  1. First, the dentist composites digital images of your teeth to give an example as to what veneers would look like.
  2. Once you discuss options for the look of the veneers, including shape, style, color, the dentist creates a temporary set of veneers for you to wear. Our "Wax-Up" program allows you to take home a temporary set of teeth so you can take your time to decide if the veneers are right for you or if you'd like to make adjustments. Remember, you are always in control as to what your teeth should look like, so have a strong opinion and make sure you're happy with your smile.

Once you decide on the perfect set of veneers, the dental team will make a permanent set. The veneers are placed over the teeth similar to a cap.

  1. First, the dentist removes a small amount of enamel from the tooth to help make the veneer fit snuggly.
  2. Then, the veneers are placed over each tooth and adhered to the tooth using a lightweight bonding solution.
  3. Once all veneers are applied and straightened, the dentist uses a special heat emitting light, which bonds the veneer onto the teeth. That's all their is to it. Typically a follow up visit is required to ensure the look and fit of the veneers.

before veneersafter veneers

Discomfort

We avoid the word pain when it comes to veneers, because patients who receive veneers don't necessarily experience any. They may experience slight discomfort when the dentist removes a small amount of tooth enamel before applying the veneers. For that, we can administer local anesthesia. However, overall, receiving veneers is a simple procedure without invasive surgery.
After the procedure, you may experience slight discomfort during the first few weeks. Often, it takes time to get used to the adjustment and the doctor may even need to do slight reshaping of the porcelain. This again, does not cause much discomfort and is done in an appointment setting.

Time

From start to finish, the process to receive veneers can take roughly 4 to 6 weeks. From the first appointment, to receiving your temporary set, to finally adhering the porcelain veneers to the teeth. Of course, it can take longer if you have issues with your temporary set or request several changes before bonding to the final veneer.
Once the veneers are adhered to the teeth, they can last anywhere up to 10-30 years depending on use and care. Of course, any cracks, chips, discoloration, and decay need to be addressed and visits to the dentist for repair and maintenance may be necessary.

The Look

If you're hoping for a straight, brighter smile, veneers do an amazing job. They easily mask stained, oddly shaped, or crooked teeth without the need for braces or major dental reconstruction. With premium porcelain and adhering materials, the veneers look natural and are as strong as real teeth.
Water Tower Dental guarantees your satisfaction and can assure you'll leave our offices with a smile on your face. Just look at a few of our cases in our Smile Gallery.
veneers after

Cost

Though costs range depending on the quality of your teeth and how many you plan to cover, veneers can cost anywhere from $1500 - $3000 a tooth depending on the offices you are in contact with. That's quite a pretty penny for a tooth. That means you need to be certain that you're happy with your decision and are confident with the dentist you choose.
We offer our "Wax-Up" program which allows you to wear a temporary set of veneers for a few weeks which replicates the final veneers. This allows for a "test drive" of the veneers and helps decide on the final shape and style.
Only you can decide if veneers are right for you. With this information at hand, it shouldn't be hard to determine if veneers are for you. If you have any more questions, contact Water Tower Dental Care, we're happy to help.

3 Ways to Whiten Your Teeth

May 28th, 2013

teeth whitening solutionsConsider this: most people wear a new outfit every single day. We put on a clean shirt and a clean pair of pants to look presentable and respectable. If we were to spill coffee or some pasta sauce on our shirt, we wouldn't continue wearing that same shirt for three more days or probably even a day. So why would we treat our teeth any differently? We wear them everyday, with every outfit. Shouldn't they be as clean and respectable as the clothes we wear? Of course, pasta sauce and coffee reacts differently to our teeth, but over time, they will start to stain. Your pearly whites will slowly change to an off-white cream to a beige color to a mild yellow brown.
However, just like your clothes, there are ways to maintain a perfectly white smile. Other than brushing and flossing everyday to keep your teeth free of plaque, you can use whitener to remove the stains from teeth and bring them back to their original color. There are three main methods to teeth whitening that we'll review here so you can decide which method is best for you.

At Home Remedies for Teeth Whitening

The Dental world is filled with toothpastes, mouthwashes, and at-home whitening kits to choose from. Each offers different results, if any. Most of these products contain a special abrasive that gently polishes the teeth as well as special chemicals that aide in the process of breaking down and dissolving stains. Some of these products can contain a chemical called blue covarine, which creates the illusion that your teeth are whiter, but in reality, they are making your teeth appear less yellow. This is almost the equivalent of staining your teeth white. It makes the problem less noticeable.
However, there are some products that do garner results. Usually it takes about two to six weeks to see a change in shade. It is best to find products that are stamped with a dental organization's seal of approval. This helps assure that dentists have tested the brand and approve of its effectiveness in removing stains and whitening teeth.
Be sure to read a manufacturer's warning labels on the whitening product though, overuse can often damage tooth enamel over time.

'Over the Counter' Remedies for Teeth Whitening

teeth whiteningWhile toothpastes and mouthwashes can help whiten teeth, they often are minimally effective. For better results in the privacy of your own home, an over the counter, take-home teeth whitening kit can be more effective.
The process of getting one of these kits starts by visiting your local dentist. At Water Tower Dental Care, we start by making impressions of your teeth to make custom trays. In as little as 1 day, the trays can be ready and, with a quick appointment to the office, we show you how to use the at-home kit. It's fairly simple; we provide your custom trays and a solution of whitening gel to use. We'll instruct you how to use the gel, for how long, and when you can expect results.
custom teeth whitening traysOn average, we recommend the trays be used for one hour a day for a total of two weeks. At that time, a follow-up appointment is made to show you the change of shade and to recommend if you should continue the treatment or only refer to touch-up applications thereafter.
With our take-home teeth whitening kit, you're guaranteed to see whitening results within weeks. No more wasted money on toothpastes and mouthwashes that might work. Take-home kits work wonders for stained teeth.

In the Dentist's Chair

The third form of teeth whitening, and by far the quickest, is by visiting Water Tower Dental Care and having a team of trained professionals transform your smile from mediocre to extraordinary. We do this with the leading teeth whitening system in America, Zoom!
Zoom! Whitening can brighten your smile up to eight shades in an hour. It's a simple process.

  • First, the Water Tower Dental Care team applies a special pH-balanced hydrogen peroxide solution to the surface of your teeth.
  • Next, we use a special, low-heat light that activates the solution and breaks downs any unwanted stains.

The solution will penetrate the uppermost layers of teeth to undo discoloration caused by coffee, tea, tobacco, red wine, and other stain inducing products.
While Zoom! Whitening is by far the quickest method; any form of teeth care and cleaning is admirable by Water Tower Dental Care standards. If you choose to use at-home products, a take-home kit, or come into the office for Zoom! Whitening, Water Tower Dental Care is happy to help in the adventure. If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment for whiter teeth, contact Water Tower Dental Care to get started on the path to a brighter smile.

What your teeth tell about you

January 31st, 2012

It is amazing what you can tell by someone's teeth and gums!

online.wsj.com

What do your teeth, gums and tongue say about your overall health?

Good Morning America addresses "bleachorexia"

July 26th, 2011

While in the office today I noticed a woman getting her teeth looked at by a dentist on Good Morning America.  Intrigued , I wanted to see what they were addressing on the show.  I was impressed by the program and what it had to say.   As a dental office we are always here for our patients and available for questions and concerns regarding health and cosmetic issues.  Check out the program and let us know what you think.  http://abcnews.go.com/Health/WomensHealth/bleachorexia-quest-pearly-whites-destroy-teeth/story?id=13733092