Food for Thought

​Safety Tips for Trick or Treating with Your Kids This Halloween

October 25th, 2018

trick or treat tips halloweenIt’s that time of year again. Ghouls, goblins, and fairy princesses will be haunting our sidewalks and front porches for a few hours on the evening of October 31st.

While the vast majority of children will have a fun and memorable time, we’d like to take this opportunity to provide some safety tips for parents who are trick-or-treating with their younger children.

Before we get into the tips, we wouldn’t be doing our job as a dental clinic if we didn’t take a few sentences to warn you of the dangers of your kids eating too much sugar.

While a couple of candy bars probably won’t hurt, if you give your kids a huge bag of Halloween candy and leave it up to their better judgment as to when they should eat it, there’s an excellent chance that we’ll find a few new cavities during their next dental check-up.

Here are a few tips you can follow to ensure a safe and happy Halloween!


While that “Stranger Things” costume may be a hit with the friends and classmates of your kids, it could be a potential safety hazard. Make sure that your child’s costume fits them very well. If it’s too tight or too loose, they could trip and fall on a curb or the wet evening grass.

You can buy some cheap light-reflecting tape at the local Home goods store. Put a few strips on the back of your child’s costume. If a car should happen to drive down a dark street that your child is walking down, the reflective tape will catch the car headlights and shine very bright.


In addition to reflective tape, you can also buy and add glowsticks to your child’s costume. If you somehow become separated from your kids at a crowded house, you can easily find them in a crowd of costumes in the dark night.

You can also pick up a $1 LED flashlight from the local dollar store. Attach it to your kid's belt so that they can easily make use of it with only one hand. Their other hand is going to clutch their bag of candy tighter than a safe at Fort Knox.

Go Early

The “big kids” (those over 13 years old) tend to go out after 8 p.m. Most cities in the U.S. get dark around 6 pm, and this is the ideal time to take the young ones out trick-or-treating. After the sun immediately sets, there’s still enough light outside that you and your kids won’t be in the pitch-black dark.

Many houses that give out candy also have children themselves. They will be ready for the first early batch of trick-or-treaters as early as 5 pm.

Stick to Your Neighborhood

Avoid going to unfamiliar neighborhoods. Yes, the “rich houses” might give out full-size candy bars, but you and/or your kids could get lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood where you don’t know the neighbors that are giving candy to your kids.

You can easily lose track of your kids, especially at crowded houses. This is why adding a couple of glowsticks to their costumes is a great way to identify where they are from far away.

Candy Safety

Back in the 1980’s the big “scare” was crazy people putting razor blades in candy bars and giving them out to trick-or-treaters. Many hospitals in those days offered free X-rays of Halloween candy to make sure that they weren’t tampered with.

While taking your kids to the hospital to have their candy X-rayed may seem a bit excessive, there are other things you can do to make sure their candy hasn’t been tampered with.

Before you let your kids go buck wild with their candy loot, turn on the dining room light and put all of their candy onto the dining room table. Look for anything out of the ordinary, including:

  • Odd bumps or shapes
  • Metallic noises
  • Smells or odors
  • Candy that weighs more than it should

A quick visual inspection of each piece of candy should put your mind at ease. If you come across something that doesn’t seem right, throw it away. While it may seem like a waste, candy or treats that aren’t factory-sealed could have been tampered with.

It’s better to be safe than sorry. Only allow your children to eat candy that’s completely wrapped and sealed from the factory.

Talk to Your Children

One thing that parents tend to overlook is talking to their children about being safe on Halloween. Kids nowadays aren’t dumb. If you sit down with your children before you go out and explain your safety concerns, there’s an excellent chance that they will not only understand but listen and abide by your wishes.

If you feel that your child collected too much candy during Halloween, you can always confiscate the entire bag and dole out a few treats at a time. Be sure to find a good hiding spot because kids are resourceful and will find anything that isn’t locked up in a safe.

​What is the Difference Between a Dentist and Orthodontist?

October 18th, 2018

dentist vs orthodontistHave you ever wondered what is the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?

For the average person, the two words sound about the same. Both orthodontists and dentists can help fix your oral health. Both are doctors and went through many years of dental school and are certified by the state to perform oral care on patients.

But that’s where the similarities stop.

We’re going to look at both dentists and orthodontists and see how they’re different and when you might want to visit one over the other.

Schooling for Dentists

Dentists are required to attend and graduate from four years of dental school. Before being accepted, dental students must have received their bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.

Admission into dental schools is extremely competitive, and only the best and brightest get accepted. Dental schools also look at Dental Admissions Test (DAT) scores and select students based upon how well they performed.

In the first few years of dental school, students are required to take basic courses such as pathology, oral anatomy, and histology. In the latter years of their schooling, students will participate in clinical programs where they receive hands-on training by a qualified dental instructor.

Schooling for Orthodontists

Before someone can go to school to become an orthodontist, they must first graduate dental school. Orthodontics is one of many different specialties that some dentists pursue after graduating from dental school.

In addition to four years of regular college and four of dental school, orthodontic candidates must successfully complete another three years of orthodontic schooling and a residency, internship, or fellowship. In some cases, orthodontic schools will require their students to have at least two years of general dentistry practice before gaining admission.

The classes and hands-on experience that orthodontic students receive are more in-depth as they will need to understand how to guide teeth, perform oral surgery, and diagnose/treat problems that pertain to the face and neck.

Once the student has graduated from their orthodontic program, they will be required to pass an extremely challenging final exam. If the student is successful in passing the test, they will be awarded their orthodontics license.

Different Procedures

Dentists generally focus on basic oral care and provide services that pertain to:

  • Tooth decay
  • Root canals
  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Veneers
  • Teeth whitening
  • Gum disease

A dentist is the person you would initially see if you have a toothache. After the dentist has examined you, they may (or may not – depending on the services they offer) refer you to an orthodontist to help alleviate your condition.

An orthodontist has the same training as a dentist but has also undergone four years of orthodontic school. Their main specialty is the alignment of teeth and they provide services related to:

  • Overbites
  • Underbites
  • Crowded teeth
  • Wisdom teeth removal (surgical)
  • Face and neck issues (TMJ or sleep apnea)
  • Braces
  • Retainers
  • Invisalign

Some dentists may offer basic orthodontic services to their patients. There is nothing inherently wrong with this as they are a medically licensed and trained doctor.

For complicated cases, the dentist will most always refer the patient to an orthodontist as they have the training and experience necessary to diagnose and solve complex dental challenges such as crooked teeth.

Who Should I Visit?

Most people will see a dentist long before they will see an orthodontist. Regular checkups, dental cleanings, and fillings are all done from an early age. However, the American Association of Orthodontics strongly recommends all children visit an orthodontist for a specialized check-up no later than age 7.

This is the time in life when children should get braces and other orthodontic appliances to help fix their smile for adulthood. The longer a parent puts off taking their child to see an orthodontic specialist, the higher the chance for the overall cost of the procedure to increase dramatically due to the problem not being fixed at an early age.


If you have a toothache or need a deep cleaning, a dentist can help alleviate your suffering and improve your oral health. If you need braces, have an overbite, or would like to get Invisalign, you’ll want to seek out an orthodontist.

What if you don’t know an orthodontist?

Your dentist can give you a referral to a qualified orthodontist that they trust and have worked with for many years. The exact opposite is true as well. If you first saw an orthodontist, they can help recommend a good general dentist to keep your new teeth clean and healthy.

Both dentists and orthodontists specialize in helping people fix their oral and dental problems. A general dentist is good enough for getting your teeth cleaned and a root canal performed. An orthodontist is a highly trained specialist who can diagnose and solve complicated dental issues such as over/underbites, TMJ and sleep apnea issues, as well as help straighten crooked teeth via the usage of orthodontic devices such as braces or Invisalign.

​Is Fluoride Bad for You?

September 20th, 2018

fluoride badSince the mid-1950’s, the chemical fluoride has been added to the drinking water supply in most cities in our country. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) hails community water fluoridation as one of 10 most significant public health achievements of the 20th century.

Over the past 60 years, there has been an ongoing debate as to whether or not fluoride is good or bad for human health. Doctors and dentists promote it as a miracle of modern science that plays a huge role in the dental health of any given population.

People who subscribe to the “natural living” philosophy claim that fluoride is toxic and has an adverse effect upon our health and well-being. They say that it can negatively affect the pineal glands of the brain and wreak havoc on our central nervous systems.

So, who’s right and who’s wrong?

We’re going to look at what fluoride is, why it's beneficial for dental use, and what purpose it has.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is comprised of any chemical compound that contains a fluorine ion. Fluoride occurs naturally and is found in both soil and water at or around .01-.03 parts per million (ppm).

In 1945, public health officials in the U.S. were looking for a way to combat the rampant cavities and tooth decay that the vast majority of people suffered from. They performed experiments in communities where they added fluoride to the water supply and monitored the public health.

During the 15-year study, cavities in people who resided in communities where the water supply had fluoride added to it were reduced by 50 to 70 percent as compared to cities without water fluoridation.

Why Makes Fluoride Good for Dental Cleaning?

The enamel on the outer layer of a tooth is comprised of tightly packed mineral crystals. Each day these minerals are lost and regained in a natural process. The gaining of minerals is called remineralization, and the loss of minerals is called demineralization.

Demineralization occurs faster when the bacteria in our mouths feed on the sugars in our food and create acid waste products. The acid dissolves tooth enamel and speeds up the demineralization process even faster.

If the demineralization process happens quicker than the remineralization process, this is when we start to lose the protect tooth enamel layer, and cavities and bacteria can attack our teeth.

By adding fluoride to the water supply (or our toothpaste), our bodies absorb it, and it helps speed up the remineralization process and combats tooth decay. Dentists will sometimes apply a gel or cream made up of fluoride to help combat cavities in their patients.

How Safe is Fluoride for Humans?

While some people will completely dismiss those who say fluoride is unsafe as “crackpots” and “conspiracy theorists,” there is some scientific evidence that claims fluoride is highly dangerous in high dosages.

On the CDC website, they have a guide to the toxicity of many chemicals, including fluoride. The “minimal risk level” is set by the CDC at 3.65mg a day. This means that the average person should consume no more than 3.65mg of fluoride a day.

Some people are asking whether the general public is getting too much fluoride on a daily basis. If you brush your teeth regularly, you are most likely doing it with toothpaste that has fluoride added to it.

If you’re a 160-pound person and drink the recommended daily allowance of tap water every day, you’re ingesting at least 1.66mg of the 3.65mg daily allowance. Because fluoride is present in our drinking water supply, any products that are made with local community water also contain fluoride:

  • Beer
  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Processed foods

So, does this mean we shouldn’t use fluoride?

Many dentists will say that the rewards outweigh the risks when it comes to ingesting fluoride. While there can be a toxicity effect at certain high levels, many people won’t come close to ingesting enough fluoride on a daily basis to have any noticeable results.

If you’re concerned about the limits of fluoride you and your loved ones are consuming, there are some educational websites that will tell you how to lower the amount you ingest.

But for everyone else, you should be more worried about sitting down in the dental chair only to have the dentist tell you that you have a cavity that needs to be filled. With as much sugar that’s added to the foods that we consume, the number of cavities that people suffer from will only continue to rise.

Final Thoughts

Unless a proverbial smoking gun is found by researchers that strongly supports one side of the argument over the other, the debate as to whether fluoride is safe will continue for many decades to come.

What is known is that fluoride can help prevent tooth enamel loss and that helps prevent cavities. Until medical science says otherwise, it’s best to continue to on with your daily life and worry more about getting a cavity than having the fluoride in the water supply turn you into a zombie who’s controlled by the lizard people that live on the dark side of the moon.

​Are Heart Disease and Oral Health Related?

July 12th, 2018

heart disease dental healthIn 2012 the American Heart Association (AHA) published a study that provided substantial evidence that oral health and heart health are closely related. Researchers found that people who suffer from gum disease (aka “periodontal disease”) are almost twice as likely to have heart disease.

Dentists have long known that gum disease can cause cavities and eventual tooth loss. Medical science is now realizing that what goes on inside your mouth can negatively affect other parts of your body. Maintaining good oral health is essential for keeping the rest of your body healthy and normal.

How Can Gum Disease Cause Heart Disease?

Scientists think that the link between the two diseases is due to the same bacteria. They surmise that infected gum tissue can be broken down by harmful bacteria, thereby allowing the bacteria easy entry into other parts of the body through the bloodstream.

When a person starts to brush or chew, the bacteria can enter into the bloodstream and move to different parts of the circulatory system such as the heart. Over time arterial plaque will build up to the point where serious issues can occur.

Researchers have found oral bacteria in the fatty deposits of those who have atherosclerosis. This, in turn, can lead to a heart attack or a stroke.

Importance of Brushing and Flossing

Adults over the age of 35 are highly susceptible to losing teeth due to gum disease. It’s been said that three out of every four adults will be affected by gum disease at some point in their life. The best way to prevent periodontal disease and cavities is to use proper brushing and flossing techniques.

Bacterial plaque causes both tooth decay and periodontal disease. It is a colorless film that forms on all tooth surfaces. By brushing your teeth every day, you can remove this layer of germs and help prevent decay and disease.

Sometimes an antiseptic mouthwash can also help lower the bacteria counts in your mouth. For it to be effective, you should always use the mouthwash in conjunction with brushing and flossing. Mouthwash alone cannot get rid of plaque on the teeth – it will only kill the bacteria for a little while.

What Else Can Bad Oral Health Impact?

Researchers have found a strong correlation between cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Further studies have suggested that those with diabetes will benefit significantly from a professional tooth cleaning.

Your mouth is the entryway into your body. If it’s not properly cleaned and maintained, all sorts of bacteria can enter into your bloodstream and start causing other health issues such as:

• Pregnancy complications

• Erectile dysfunction

• Cancer

• Dementia

Bad oral health can also affect your teeth. If you have severe enough dental problems, it can cause total tooth loss. Fortunately, there are treatment options available that can reconstruct your mouth thoroughly and give you a brand-new set of teeth as well as the confidence to finally smile once again!

How to Maintain Your Oral Health

If you’re starting to get scared after reading the above few paragraphs – good!

These reasons and more are why dentists have long been saying that it’s critically important to take care of your oral health. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to keep up your health:

• Eat a balanced diet and limit sugary snacks

• Quit or lower the amount of alcohol you drink

• Stop smoking

• Brush your teeth twice daily with ADA-recommended toothpaste

• Floss between meals

The other thing you can do is to visit your dentist on a regular basis. Brushing and flossing your teeth on a regular basis are no substitute for a dental visit.

A professional dental teeth cleaning can reach and remove plaque buildup that regular brushing and flossing can miss. The dentist also has the unique advantage of being able to look directly inside your mouth for areas that you might have missed or were unable to reach.

Dentists will also be able to pick up on signs that might indicate the early formation of a cavity or gum disease. This preventative care is essential if you want to maintain good oral health.

Gum Disease Treatment in Chicago

If you haven’t been brushing and flossing regularly, there are several available treatment options which can get your oral health back to a normal level.

In more severe cases, mild lasers can be used to manually remove areas of bacteria that have accumulated over time, which in turn can help improve your oral health.

If you currently suffer from gum disease, all hope is not lost. To tell what stage of gum disease you might have, and what treatment options are available, you’ll need to make a dental appointment to be examined.

At Water Tower Dental Care, we specialize in making our patients feel comfortable and welcome. We use the latest state-of-the-art dental tools that will help improve your oral health and make your smile look like a million bucks!

​7 Best Summer Foods for Healthy Teeth

June 28th, 2018

healthy foods for summerThe hot summer months are officially here and that means BBQ’s, vacations, and family get-togethers. The only downside to all this fun in the sun is that people tend to neglect their dental health and go lax on their New Year’s resolutions to eat a healthy diet.

There are plenty of summertime foods that are tasty and healthy, but there are also plenty of foods that can lead to cavities and gum disease. Lemonade and soda are two of the biggest summertime culprits out there. These two beverages contain massive amounts of sugar – which is not only bad for your teeth, but bad for your overall health.

Candy bars, potato chips (they’re loaded with unhealthy trans-fats), beer, cookies, and anything else that contains sugar or pre-processed food products should generally be avoided. This holds true for children as well as adults. Children are especially vulnerable to foods with high sugar content and cavities can form quicker than you think.

Just because you’re making a conscious choice to eat healthy summertime foods that promote healthy teeth doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck in a corner holding a glass of water while munching a celery stick at the next BBQ you attend.

We’ve come up with 5 fun and tasty summertime foods that you can not only eat yourself but encourage others to eat as well!


Fresh (or frozen) salmon contains high amounts of docosahexaenoic acid which is a type of omega-3 fat. Medical studies have been performed that show that these long-chain omega-3 fatty acids can actually help prevent periodontal disease.

Everyone loves the taste of barbecued or baked salmon, and it won’t be hard to get your friends, family, and guests to load their paper plates up with a serving of this delicious and healthy fish. Many supermarkets will have summertime sales on salmon which will greatly reduce the normal cost.

Dairy Products

Unsweetened yogurt (topped off with low-or-no-sugar organic granola bits), cheese and low-fat milk all contain calcium and protein which encourage health bones and teeth to grow.

Be sure to have non-dairy options for those who are lactose intolerant. As gross as it may sound, some people who suffer from lactose intolerance love the taste of goat’s milk and goat’s cheese. Try it – you just might like it!

Cucumber Water

Hanging out in the backyard or park with friends and family is a great way to spend a summer day. Eventually you’ll get thirsty and will be tempted to reach for a soda or other drink that contains a high amount of sugar.

Try a glass of water. Yes, plain water is bland, boring, and tasteless – but it doesn’t have to be! Go to your grocery store and buy a cucumber. Slice it up into ½ inch slices and then let it marinate in a bottle of refrigerated filtered water overnight.

The next morning you’ll have a tasty and refreshing chilled drink. Cucumbers are rich in vitamins, anti-oxidants and offer a whole host of health benefits. It’s even thought that cucumbers can help lower blood pressure due to the high amounts of potassium which help the kidneys process the excess salt you might be eating in your diet.


While many apples are harvested in the fall time, there are several varieties that your local farmer’s market should carry. Apples can help satisfy even the worst sugar cravings and will work to stimulate saliva flow in your mouth – which can wash away bits and pieces of food that might otherwise cause tooth decay and gum disease. The water inside an apple will also dilute any sugar that they contain.


One of the most popular healthy summertime foods are strawberries. They’re rich in vitamin C, help reduce inflammation and contain collagen, which is a protein that helps fight periodontal disease. Just make sure that you don’t eat them with whipped cream, chocolate, or any other non-natural sweets, otherwise you’ll turn a healthy food into an unhealthy one.


There’s nothing sweeter than biting into a fresh summertime peach. They contain the mineral fluoride, which helps re-mineralize and rebuild teeth enamel. Peaches are a great food for helping prevent cavities. They also contain high amounts of vitamin C and calcium which will help strengthen your teeth.


Meat is good for your teeth, provided that it’s eaten in moderation. Meats contain high amounts of protein which will in turn help strengthen your teeth and jaw. Lean meats such as chicken and turkey will add additional health benefits above and beyond what you would get from eating red meat.

Meat can also help fill up your stomach, thereby giving you a great reason to pass on the sugar-laden cookies, cakes, or other snacks that might be served as after-dinner deserts.

Eating Healthy in the Summertime

Eating healthy in the summertime doesn’t mean you have to eat boring, bland foods. There are plenty of fruits, vegetables, and meats that taste delicious and will contribute to you or your children’s overall dental health.

Just be sure to brush and floss at least twice a day and visit your dentist twice a year for your scheduled checkups and teeth cleaning.

​Are Oral Health and Cancer Related?

March 15th, 2018

dentist examResearchers at the University of Helsinki released a report that suggests that people with poor oral health are at high risk of developing pancreatic cancer. They found that the role of mouth bacteria that cause inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth (periodontitis) are closely linked to the onset of oral and other cancers elsewhere in the body.

The study showed that the mouth bacteria that cause periodontitis can turn viral and move freely to other parts of the body where they take part in the destruction of tissue that’s related to cancer. Researchers think that inflamed gum tissues are a sort of gateway path for cancer to develop in other parts of the body.

The good news is that the overall cost to prevent the cancer from forming is very inexpensive. Brushing and flossing one’s teeth and regularly scheduled dental checkups and cleanings are the best way to prevent the onset of certain cancers in the body that are related to the bacteria in your mouth.

Over the years, science has either linked, or strongly suspects that certain other cancers of the body are directly or indirectly related to oral health. Here are a few of the cancers that researchers think might be linked to poor oral health.

Lung cancer

Investigators looked at the relationship between tooth loss (periodontal disease) and lung cancer. One study found no significant link between the two, but another study found that there was an increased risk in people with periodontal disease who were also smokers.

The evidence is still inconclusive, but researchers are continuing to look to see if there might be another link. While lung cancer is primarily due to smoking, some researchers think that poor oral health could increase the risk of those who might be more susceptible to lung cancer due to being regular smokers.

Oral cancer

The link between oral cancer and poor oral health has been studied for many years. A group of scientists led by Dr. Tezal found a marked increase in oral tumors or precancerous oral lesions in patients who have periodontal disease. He also found that the risk of oral tumors was significantly higher for non-smokers. For smokers the risk was exponentially higher.

There were other studies performed that found that tooth loss was an independent risk factor in oral cancel because of chronic trauma to the oral mucosa which scientists think might play a role in cancer of the mouth. For those who lost 11 or more teeth, their risk for oral cancer went up 2.7 times.

Esophageal cancer

Another study found that when a person is missing 6 to 15 teeth, their risk of esophageal cancer doubled from someone who isn’t missing any teeth at all. The link between esophageal cancer and periodontal disease needs to be studied further because at the time of this blog post there is only one study that is showing a significant link between the two.

Upper GI and gastric cancers

A Japanese study found a two-fold increase in the odds of developing a gastric type of cancer in people who have lost 10 or more teeth. They found that the odds of cancer will increase in proportion to how many teeth are lost. There are other studies by a research named Michaud who report that no significant increase in cancers have been linked to the amount of teeth a person loses.

Cancer Prevention?

Can oral and other forms of cancer be prevented by good oral hygiene? The evidence is still inconclusive. If anything, maintaining proper oral health on a daily basis can most likely help decrease the risk of certain cancers forming. While this does not prevent cancer in and of itself, having good oral health is critical to the overall health of your body.

Quitting smoking, quitting chewing tobacco, and even quitting eCigs could help prevent certain types of oral cancers from forming, especially if you have poor oral health. Bad habits like chewing on lips and cheeks, or any other continuous tissue damage can also increase your risk of oral cancers. In addition to brushing and flossing on a daily basis, it’s imperative that you make an appointment with a dentist if you haven’t been to one in a while.

The dentist has specialized tools that they can use to check for various forms of oral cancers in your mouth. If caught early enough, there’s a good chance they can cut it out without any major damage or harm being done.


While some scientific studies have shown that there is most likely an increase in cancer due to poor oral health, other studies have been inconclusive. What is known is that the scientific community thinks the link between oral health and cancer is important enough to spend millions of dollars in research.

If you suspect you might be at risk for oral cancer, or would like to schedule an oral cancer screening, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Even if you haven’t been to the dentist in a long while, there are treatment options that can help reduce the amount of dangerous bacteria in your mouth. At Water Tower Dental Care, we can help you regain your oral health which in turn can help increase your overall health.

​New Year’s Resolutions to Better Your Teeth and Health

January 4th, 2018

new years resolutions health teethIt’s that time of year again when people start making their New Year’s resolutions. Make 2018 the year that you do something good for “future you”. Something as simple as a 30-minute dental cleaning will not only leave your teeth and mouth feeling super fresh, but it can prevent health related issues down the line.

We have come up with 5 easy-to-follow resolutions for the New Year. All 5 of these resolutions will not only help out with your oral health, but with your overall health as well!

Schedule a Dental Cleaning/Checkup

Whether it’s for you or your children, a dental checkup can prevent painful and expensive issues in the future. In fact, it’s been estimated that one-quarter of children from 2 -5 years old and one-half of youths 12 – 15 suffer from some form of tooth decay.

By getting a checkup and cleaning, problems can be caught (and solved) before they turn into serious issues. It’s often been said that your mouth is a window into your overall health. If you have bad oral health, it could negatively affect other parts of your body without you even realizing it.

Protip: If you would consider yourself to be a “dental chicken”, call the dentist and ask them if there’s anything they can give you to help alleviate your anxiety. There are several options available that will help put your mind at ease and prevent a mini-panic attack.

Start (or continue) Flossing!

In this fast-paced world, many people tend to “phone it in” when it comes to good daily oral care. Flossing only takes a minute or two and helps get rid of plaque that can harden near the gum line. If left to its own devices, the plaque will cause gum disease and tooth decay.

Run out and buy a can of dental floss and make it a point to floss your teeth before bedtime on January 1st. By the time you go in for your next dental checkup, your teeth and gums will be in much better shape.

Protip: You can buy floss picks which can be stored in the center console of your purse, car, or desk at work. You can also put some on the side table near the couch, so you can floss while watching t.v.

Quit Smoking!

If you smoke cigarettes on a regular basis, you might be surprised to know that you’re causing damage to your gums, teeth, and mouth – not just your lungs and skin. Smoking stains your teeth, leads to gum disease, tooth loss, and in some causes mouth cancer.

eCigs aren’t a better alternative. Science and the medical community just started studying the effects that eCigs have on oral health. There are many alternatives to eCigs that have been proven to work. Cigarette patches, the “stop smoking pill”, and even cold turkey (for those brave souls willing to test their willpower) are better alternatives than inhaling unknown chemicals that are present in eCig juices.

Brush Your Teeth More

Even if you brush your teeth twice a day, you could probably stand to brush them three times a day (once after every meal). If not, make it a conscious decision to brush immediately after you have eaten sugary snacks or sweets. This way, you’re actively limiting the amount of time that your teeth are exposed to sugars, which gives bad bacteria less time to do harm.

Protip: Most home goods stores sell travel toothbrushes. They usually come in a plastic carrying case. Buy one of those and a small tube of toothpaste and you can store them in your desk at work. A quick trip to the bathroom after lunch to brush your teeth, and you’ll walk back to your desk with a minty-fresh smile!

Cut Back on Sugary Snacks

This one is literally a no-brainer. Sugary snacks are bad for you, bad for your teeth and bad for your overall health. They cause weight gain, diabetes, and tooth decay. The $7 triple venti latte café mocha with 25lbs of sugar that you get every morning before work isn’t helping either.

Try brewing coffee at home before you go to work. Not only will you save hundreds of dollars every month, but you can prevent yourself from damaging your teeth and health by drinking that much sugar on a daily basis.

Protip: The amount of money you’ll invest in a single-serve coffee maker and travel mug is miniscule in comparison to the money you’ll save by not buying a $7 latte every morning. You’ll also get to work much sooner!

Chicago Family Dentist

If your New Year’s resolution is to make sure that you’re doing all you can to maintain your oral health, schedule an appointment at Water Tower Dental Care. Our qualified and highly skilled dentists and dental assistants will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and offer suggestions on how you can easily keep your New Year’s resolution to take better care of your gums and teeth!

​Can Stress Lead to Tooth Loss?

June 29th, 2017

tooth loss stressStress can lead to wide variety of health complications such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and over time, can even lead to severe depression and anxiety.

But can stress actually lead to loss of your teeth?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: Yes.

Just because you have a stressful job does not mean you’re going to wake up one morning and find that your teeth have fallen out of your mouth due to the stress alone. The human body doesn’t quite work that way. However, stress can cause other health related issues, which in turn can cause the loss of your teeth.

There has been lots of talk about Demi Moore going on a late night TV. show recently and talking about how she “sheered off her two front teeth” due to stress. Demi claimed that stress caused her teeth to fall out, which technically was true, however it was due the other issues that stressed caused which actually lead to the demise of her two front teeth.

People who saw the segment came away with the impression that if you have a lot of stress in your life, your teeth could fall out of your mouth one day. Demi previously went on the Ellen Degeneres Show in 2010 and was quoted as saying: “I had a bad bite and knocked my own front tooth out, which basically fell out into my hand, and I just thought my warranty was up.”

It was this “warranty was up” part that most people took to mean that teeth have warranties and stress causes them to expire quicker. While stress itself cannot cause your teeth to fall out of your mouth, stress can cause other health related issues, which in and of themselves can cause your teeth to eventually fall out.


It has been said that over 70% of Bruxism cases have been linked to stress. Bruxism is when you excessively grind your jaw or teeth. There are two types of this condition: sleep grinding and awake grinding. Researchers state that if you use drugs, alcohol or tobacco it can exacerbate the problem exponentially.

The constant grinding of your teeth can wear down the enamel thereby causing the tooth to crack or break. In some cases it can even lead to TMJ, which is an issue with the joint of your lower jaw. The main fix for Bruxism is to have a plastic or rubber mouth guard made so your teeth stop grinding against each other.

Most people who have bruxism don’t even realize they have it. The grinding of the teeth is a reaction to the stress and in most cases people don’t consciously realize that they are grinding their teeth.

So, let’s review: Stress > Bruxism > Worn tooth enamel > Cracked teeth > TMJ

As you can see stress itself did not cause the tooth to crack and break. That was caused by the worn tooth enamel which was caused by the bruxism (excessive teeth grinding). Had bruxism not caused the teeth to grind up against each other over the course of a few months to a few years, the tooth enamel would not have worn out.

This could have been prevented by simply wearing a mouth guard. The mouth guard is specifically designed to prevent the teeth from grinding up against one another. Your dentist can easily fit you for a mouth guard and have one manufactured in a short period of time.

Gum Disease

Scientists have recently discovered that stress can cause gum disease. This becomes a potentially huge slippery slope. When some people are stressed, they sometimes pick up unhealthy habits in order to emotionally cope:

  • Drugs
  • Smoking
  • Pain pills
  • Alcohol
  • Eating junk food/not exercising
  • Not performing proper daily dental hygiene

So, in addition to gum disease being caused by stress; smoking and drugs and everything else can actually increase the rate at which your gums and teeth degenerate. Stress now becomes a literal ticking time bomb for your oral health and teeth!

The problem with this is that most people aren’t aware of it until it’s too late. They don’t realize their dental health is degrading because they’re so preoccupied with their stress and worries. Not to mention oral health and tooth issues don’t usually manifest themselves until it is too late. At this point you wind up with a massive tooth infection (and oral pain that you would not wish upon your worst enemy) or your teeth literally fall out of your mouth like in Demi’s case.

How to Prevent Stress-Related Tooth Loss

The obvious answer to this question is to lessen the stress in your life. For some people that is easier said than done.

We talked about how a rubber mouth guard can be used to help prevent your teeth from grinding up against each other, but what about gum disease and other tooth related issues? Stop smoking, chewing tobacco, drinking heavily, abusing drugs.

Another thing you can do is to visit a dentist on a regular basis. He/she will give you a dental checkup and let you know if they see anything you should be concerned about. It has been said that your dentists are usually the first people who can tell if you have stress in your life. It’s literally written all over your teeth, gums and mouth.

If your teeth do fall out there are many techniques out there to ensure that your smile continues to look its best, like dental implants. The implants are usually made out of a ceramic/titanium mix, which wears better than the original enamel your tooth came with. It’s not the ideal solution to the problem, but nobody will be able to tell they aren’t your real teeth.

Oral Inflammation and What You Can Do About It

May 30th, 2017

gum inflammationYour dentist may be the first person to see early signs of cardiovascular disease. That's right, the health of your gums and teeth is closely related to the health of your heart. Early signs of concern include bleeding gums, gingivitis, and tooth decay, all of which indicate excess inflammation.

In recent years, the many consequences of inflammation have become clear, ranging from cardiovascular disease to cancer to dementia and beyond. Fortunately, there are lab tests that allow for effective measurement and monitoring of inflammation. More importantly, there are very effective natural interventions that address the root cause of inflammation, leading to decreased levels, improved oral health and an associated decreased risk of disease.

What lab tests are recommended to assess inflammation?

Two lab tests commonly used to assess systemic, total body, chronic inflammation are high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and homocysteine. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) is a third test that may be employed from time to time, but it is a less reliable marker of chronic inflammation than hsCRP and homocysteine.

If my dentist sees signs of inflammation or my inflammatory lab markers are elevated what can I do?

Firstly, heed your dentist's recommendations for oral hygiene! Daily flossing, brushing and regular cleanings are essential to decreasing oral and systemic inflammation. Supplements such as oral probiotics, therapeutic doses of fish oil, and professional grade curcumin may also be prescribed to reverse the inflammatory trend.

Secondly, assess your diet and make appropriate changes. The bad news is that when signs of inflammation are present or lab tests are elevated, diet is inevitably a contributor. The good news is that there are three simple ways to have a tremendously positive impact on inflammation through your diet.

1. Decrease consumption of foods that contribute to inflammation. With sugar, sweets, juice, soda, alcohol and simple carbohydrates (such as white rice, white potatoes, pasta and breads) topping the list of pro-inflammatory foods, your dentist will be fully supportive of these changes!

2. Increase consumption of foods that decrease inflammation. These include spices such as turmeric and ginger, colorful vegetables, colorful fruits and healthy fats such as fatty fish, olive oil, nuts, avocado, and coconut. An easy way to put this into practice is to 11eat the rainbow" in vegetables, with up to two colors coming from fruit every day.

3. For maximum benefits, take on both decreasing consumption of pro-inflammatory foods and increasing consumption of anti-inflammatory foods.

Inflammation - and its associated disease states - is not an inevitable outcome of aging. Ask your dentist if they see any warning signs, and if they do, spring into action to restore your health!

As a Clinical Nutrition and Functional Medicine Specialist, Dr. Hehmeyer seeks to identify and address the root cause of health concerns, and through a collaborative relationship with patients, works to restore health and optimize wellness.

​Oral Cancer and Throat Cancer Symptoms and Screening

May 18th, 2017

What is Throat Cancer?

oral throat cancer symptomsWhile throat cancer is a relatively uncommon cancer, its effects can be just as devastating as other more common types of cancer. When we think of throat cancer, we are really identifying a generic term for two different types of cancer: pharyngeal cancer (which develops in the pharynx, or the back of your throat and mouth); and laryngeal cancer (which is further down your throat near the larynx, or voice box). When medical and dental professionals talk about throat cancer, they are referring to either squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma. Both of which can be present in either pharyngeal cancer or laryngeal cancer.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Throat Cancer?

There are several distinct signs and symptoms of throat cancer, whether you are talking about pharyngeal cancer or laryngeal cancer. People may experience a change in the tone or sound of their voice. They may also experience difficulty swallowing or experience a prolonged sore throat. Constantly feeling the need to clear your throat, or the presence of a persistent cough with the presence of blood is also considered a sign of throat cancer. People should pay attention to ear pain, wheezing when they breathe, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. In addition, hoarseness in the throat may be present. Typically, these signs and symptoms are not explained by pre-existing conditions or diseases. They develop independently and start the investigation toward cancer.

We all know the effects that websites like WebMD have had on people these days. Don't jump to conclusions regarding your symptoms, but if something seems worrisome, or out of the ordinary, please make sure to consult your doctor to better determine what might be going on.

What are the Most Popular Methods of Detection for Throat Cancer?

There are several clinical tests that may be conducted to determine if a person has a form of throat cancer. The most popular method is a visual inspection using a procedure called laryngoscopy, in which the doctor will place a tube with a camera attached to it down your throat to get a closer look at the tissue and lining of the throat. A biopsy is also an effective way of determining abnormalities in the tissue in the throat. MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) tests can also be administered to see the scope of the cancerous spread. Your dentist can also play a key role in detecting throat cancer, so it is important to have regular visits with him or her.

How a Dentist Can Help in Early Detection of Throat Cancer

At Water Tower Dental Care Center, we utilize a technology called VELscope. This light technology allows our dentists to see abnormal cells that wouldn’t be normally visible to the naked eye. This is an important piece in the detection and treatment of throat cancer, as well as other oral cancers, and just one more way that we provide quality care to our patients.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer can also be known as mouth cancer. Typically, mouth cancers appear as either a bump or lesion that needs to be investigated further to determine the presence of cancer. Oral cancer can include salivary gland cancer, as well as tongue cancer and buccal (cheek) cancer. Oral cancers also include lip cancers (external lips and internal lips), oromandibular cancers (in the lower jaw), and palatomaxillary cancers (in the upper jaw and palate of the mouth).

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

The first sign that cancer may be present in the mouth is the appearance of lesions. These lesions are typically white in color or red in color and cannot be brushed off or picked off. These lesions don’t seem to have any reason for being present, and sometimes patients can’t determine when they started. Other signs and symptoms can include ear pain because the mouth, nose, and ears are all attached to one another. An unexplained sore throat, ongoing numbness or pain in the mouth, as well as difficulty swallowing, chewing or speaking can all be signs and symptoms of oral cancer. Bleeding may also be present without explanation.

The signs and symptoms associated with oral cancer can go on for some time before clients realize there is a problem. Clients are unable to pinpoint when or what has caused them and they are usually discovered after the lesions or discolorations have started. Early detection is very important when dealing with oral cancers.

What are the Most Popular Methods of Detection for Oral Cancer?

The identification of any lesions is vital in determining the type and stage of cancer that is present in the mouth. Biopsies may be taken to identify the progression of cancer. Gathering a full medical and dental history is also very helpful in diagnosing oral cancer. Stain tests, optical coherence tomography testing, and brush cytology may be required for further diagnosis and confirmation of the disease.

How a Dentist Can Help in Early Detection of Oral Cancer

Dentists are the oral care experts, and it is important to consult with your dentist if you believe you may be at risk for oral cancer, or if you have signs or symptoms you may be concerned about. As with our methods of early detection for throat cancer, Water Tower Dental Care Center will utilize our cutting edge technology called VELscope to identify any issues that may be developing differently than what is normally expected. Early detection is a key component in managing and surviving any cancer, and we are thrilled to be able to offer this detection service to our clients. Don’t wait to see a medical professional if you think you may have signs and symptoms of oral cancer.

Looking for more information about Oral/Throat cancer, or just want to set up an appointment. Contact Water Tower Dental Care in Chicago today!

​How To Treat TMJ

May 11th, 2017

how to treat tmjIf you have been diagnosed with TMJ, you probably are well aware of the symptoms: jaw pain, clicking and locking of the jaw joint as well as difficulty of chewing. It’s something that usually can be self-diagnosed, but it’s preferred to go in for a consultation with a qualified dentist.

So what exactly is TMJ?

TMJ stands for Temporomandibular joint dysfunction. There are two Temporomandibular joints on each side of your head. These joints work in conjunction with ligaments, muscles, bones and discs thereby allowing you to speak, chew and yawn.

According to medical experts, anywhere from 5% to 12% of the population suffers from TMJ. Out of all these people, it occurs more often with women than men. There really is no standard for pain or symptoms with this condition. If you suffer from one or more of the symptoms, it’s generally accepted that TMJ is the cause.

Generally speaking, the symptoms of TMJ could be one or more of the following:

  • Headaches
  • Joint sounds
  • Difficulty opening your jaw
  • Burning mouth
  • Difficulty chewing

Causes of TMJ

There are a variety of issues that could cause this condition to arise. Arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis), jaw injuries, long-term grinding of the teeth as well as connective tissue diseases can all contribute and/or increase the risk of developing TMJ.

However, TMJ is not an easy condition to diagnose as the symptoms could be related to other problems. In a lot of cases, the exact cause is very difficult to pinpoint. The best way to find out if you suffer from TMJ is to make an appointment. The doctor will go over your symptoms and make a diagnosis and create a treatment game plan.

TMJ Pain Treatment Options

Being that TMJ can sometimes be difficult to accurately diagnose, there are many types of treatments available. Assuming no pre-existing conditions and no allergies/drug complications, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually the first line of defense. These are more commonly found in over-the-counter pain medications that can be purchase at any local pharmacy or drug store.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

Tens (and Ultrasound) are two non-invasive treatments that have successfully been used to mitigate symptoms of TMJ. These procedures use either low-level electrical currents or ultrasound to relax your facial muscles and jaw joints. These procedures are usually done at the dental office.

Orthotic Appliance (Bite Guard)

Based on various testing conducted in the office, your dentist may determine that an Orthotic Appliance, or bite guard, may be a viable therapy option as well. These bite guards, which are specifically molded to your teeth, will help keep your jaw in alignment and alleviate some of the pain associated with TMJ. After a few months with the appliance we can determine whether or not the therapy worked, or if you need to continue to wear the bite guard. Sometimes the bite guard will help within the first three months, in other cases you may have to wear the bite guard for the rest of your life.

Trigger-point injections/Acupuncture

These two treatment options are slightly more invasive because they require a needle to be put into your jaw. For trigger-point injections, pain medication is injected into various areas (including facial muscles) in order to relieve the pain. It is suggested that after the pain medication has been applied, you should engage in simple facial muscle exercises in order to help strengthen the overall area.


If you have tried all other treatment methods and are still experiencing pain, you might be a good candidate for surgery. This requires a qualified dentist to determine that the TMJ you suffer from is caused by a structural problem inside the jaw joint.

There are some people for whom surgery is the first (and only) option. If you have limited jaw movement due to displacement of a dick or if you have a severe degenerative disease, then surgery might be the right option for you.

Prior to engaging in surgery, you should make sure you understand both the risks and benefits. Your dentist will give you a rundown of what is wrong, why he/she is recommending the surgery as well as what you should expect.

Types of Surgeries to Correct TMJ

There are two types of surgeries to treat TMJ: open join surgery and arthroscopy. Each has its own benefits and is the suggested course of action due to several reasons.

Open Joint Surgery

In open joint surgery, the TMJ is operated on without the usage of video monitors or other special equipment. An incision is made in front of the ear and the joint is operated on visually. This type of surgery is recommended for people whose issues cannot be corrected with arthroscopy, there are tumors around the TMJ or the TMJ is degenerating.

Open joint surgery takes a lot longer to heal than arthroscopy. This is due to the incision and general areas of the joint that are being operated on. There are many kinds of open joint surgeries available, chat with your doctor about the one that is right for you.


This procedure requires anesthesia as the surgeon will make a small incision in front of the ear. A small camera with a light will be inserted. This will allow the surgeon to examine the TMJ and determine the best course of action. Based on what the surgeon sees, they may remove tissue or simply adjust the disk. Sometimes a second incision is made to place small corrective instruments which will help fix the problem area.

The good news is that TMJ is treatable and it tends to resolve itself within a few months in most cases. If you’re looking for a qualified TMJ specialist in Chicago, Give Dr. Aneszko or Dr. Stino a call today to schedule an appointment and finally resolve your TMJ issues!

​5 Things To Look For When Choosing A Dentist in Chicago

April 20th, 2017

how to choose the right dentistChoosing a dentist is an important part of our lives and health, especially if you have a family with children who need care for their growing teeth. There are a lot of different things to think about when picking a primary dentist, and though several areas should be thought about, narrowing it down into five categories of importance is a great way to start. Keeping these questions and issues in mind, begin to look at local dentist offices and start making a list of ones that fit your families needs.

It is always best to go and visit the office before making a final decision to get a personal feel for the environment. Talking with the staff and getting a feel for their personality can help the decision process. Friendly, informative, and enthusiastic staff members and dentists are a sign of a great practice and is important because you will be establishing a relationship with these people as they will be taking care of your teeth for the years to come.

Latest Dental Technology

There has been an explosive growth in technology related to oral health, and while many practices choose to stick with the tried and tested methods, others are choosing innovative routes. Newer technology can offer faster results, less painful procedures, and in some cases, they can come cheaper than the older technology that has been used for years.

Ask the staff and dentists what kind of new technology they have implemented in their practices. Ask questions about cosmetic dentistry, lasers, and other areas you may have heard or read about. Listening to them speak about the positive and progressive changes they've made to their systems and operations can help steer you in the right direction when choosing a dentist.

Will They Accept My Insurance?

Many dentist offices have specific approved insurance companies and policies, so it's important to talk with them about which ones they accept. If you don't have dental insurance, be sure to ask about whether the staff might be able to work with you on payment options. Without insurance, dental procedures can become costly, but it is still extremely important to make sure you are visiting your dentist on a regular basis.

Depending on your insurance, you may be limited in the options available to you. Be sure to ask straight away whether or not a dental office will accept your insurance so that you don't waste your time, or get your heart set on an office, only be left down when you find out they don't accept your plan. Always make sure you and the staff have an understanding of your needs and what you're expecting to get out their services.

Office Location

For some, traveling isn't a problem. However, it is entirely dependent on the family and their needs. Finding a practice close to where you live or in a town you visit often is your best option unless you don't mind driving a bit to reach the office. Once you've taken the time to decide how far you're willing to go, make a list of the offices within that area to consider.

Another thing to think about is what is around the practice. Some are located in downtown areas with plenty of activities to experience and places to go afterward, while others are nestled into quieter, residential areas. Look at the area around the practice you're thinking about, and decide if it meets your needs.

Online Reviews and Referrals

A great way to dig deeper into a practice is by searching online for reviews and testimonials from existing/former patients. By reading reviews, you can get a more personal look at what other people have personally experienced. This will give you a better overview of the practice than just reading their website will. Be sure to look at a multitude of reviews, and don't focus specifically on one or two bad reviews. There are always going to be people that didn't like something about a business, and they are more likely to air their grievances online in the form of a bad review. So be sure to take a look at the general consensus throughout a range of reviews to get a true idea of what the dentist office is like.

Referrals from friends and family members is also a great way to find a new dentist in your area. Hearing positive or negative feedback from those you trust can give you great insight to what the dentists is really like and the quality of care you can expect. Get opinions from everyone and see if there are any that overlap and check out those offices first!

The Continuing Education of Dentists and Staff

In a field that is constantly changing, it's important that those you are trusting to care for you and your family's oral health is continuing to learn and adapt to the new discoveries and advancements being made every day. Take a look on their website to see if you can find any information about recent classes or workshops, and if you don't find the information you're looking for, ask the staff when you go in for a visit. Learning about the different advancements they are learning about can help give you an idea of what to expect in their care.

A sign of a good dentist is one that is knowledgeable and capable of sharing that wisdom with you. Being curious and asking questions is a great way to not only learn more about the practice and the staff themselves, but about what you need to know, as well, when making a decision. If you find a dentist who is willing to take the time to talk to you about concerns or answer your questions, you're probably looking in the right place.

Think Water Tower Dental Care might be the right Chicago dentist for you? Contact us today and come get to know us!

​Dream Analysis: What Does It Mean When Your Teeth Fall Out In Your Dreams?

April 13th, 2017

teeth falling out dreamWhile dreams can sometimes seem a little bizarre, often times these dreams are derived in our minds because of things that are happening in our every day lives. Regardless of how strange a dream may seem, these dream sequences can have both positive and negative interpretations that can give a little insight into things that may be happening in our lives. Instead of jumping to conclusions about what a dream may mean, it is always a important to write down what you remember from the dream in order to best interpret what the details may mean. Some dreams may seem completely irrelevant to what is happening in your life, but it’s not until you start looking at their meanings, do they make more sense.

Dreams that involved teeth falling out are actually a very common dream scenario, especially during moments of transition in your life. Whether they fall out one by one, all at once, crumble away, or in some other manner, teeth falling out and leaving your mouth completely empty can have several meanings. There are many different theories about what it means when your teeth fall out in your dreams, so it’s best to use those theories as a guideline that may relate back to what is happening in your current situation.

One of the most popular interpretations to teeth falling out in our dreams is related to anxiety, usually involving personal appearance and insecurities. It’s natural to care about how you look, and missing teeth can cause a whirlwind of anxiety in real life, hence the powerful, exaggerated message in our dreams. If you are suffering from low self-esteem, this could be a common image experienced in dreams. It can also mean insecurity due to a personal loss. The loss of teeth serves as a metaphor for something, either physical or non-physical, that has left you feeling insecure. It could mean a fear of rejection, making a fool out of yourself, or being embarrassed. This dream is a common in women who are going through menopause, leading researchers to believe it surrounds the fear of getting older and feeling less attractive and/or feminine. It can also come from the stressed felt by being overwhelmed by changes.

Another interpretation of this dream can also be related to a costly compromise. Perhaps you have agreed to something that will require a lot of your time and energy or possibly cost a lot of money. It could also be about an unpleasant decision you have to make, like being stuck in a job you hate or in a degree program that you are falling out of love with. If you have to make a costly choice, missing teeth could indicate a situation that you may have to “chew” on for a while. It could also represent the inability to make a decision and the consequences of that.

Teeth are also a strong, powerful tool our body uses to tear, chew, and grind food. Losing teeth in dreams can also mean a feeling of helplessness or losing power. Take this as a sign to be more assertive and speak up for yourself. Also, in regards to your body, it can mean a fear about your health. Losing teeth in real life may indicate poor diet or malnutrition so losing them in a dream could be playing on that fear.

Dreams about losing teeth don’t always represent something negative. Teeth falling out could mean you’re growing as a person. When you lose your teeth as a child, it means that your body is making room for adult teeth and therefore growing up. This can be seen as a transition into a new life chapter. Psychologist Carl Jung suggested that dreams about tooth loss indicate rebirth, or giving life. Although this particularly applies to women, it can relate to men too. Losing teeth in your dreams can represent letting go of tension and other negative emotions currently being experienced, usually during a transition or some sort of change. You are letting go of the bad to make way for the new and good.

Ultimately, dreams are over-exaggerations of what is happening in your every day life, and it is important to realize that while dreams can symbolize feelings we are experiencing, they are just scenarios in our mind that are often much worse than what we are actually experiencing. Most of the time, there is nothing to worry about, and our fears could be playing tricks on us in the forms of dreams.

Next time you dream about teeth falling out, consider what is going on in your life and use these dream interpretations to your advantage to either try to turn the situation around or to give you more insight into your well-being.

​5 Romantic (And Teeth-Friendly) Restaurants on Chicago's Magnificent Mile

February 9th, 2017

​5 Romantic (And Teeth-Friendly) Restaurants on Chicago's Magnificent Mile

One of the most popular things that couples do on Valentine’s Day is to go out to eat. Maybe you’re looking to try a new restaurant, or maybe you have a place that you like to go to year after year. But regardless of where you go, it’s a great time to treat yourself. Splurge on the chocolate cake or have an extra glass of wine, but make sure you’re balancing it out with the rest of your meal. Foods like these can be damaging to your teeth, but did you know that when food is eaten as part of a meal, it causes less harm than snacking throughout the day? It’s true! More saliva is released during meals, which helps wash foods away from the teeth and lessens the effects of the acidity, which can harm teeth and cause cavities. So, splurge away this Valentine's Day!

There are some really fantastic restaurants where you can celebrate Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart right on Chicago's Magnificent Mile. Here are some of our favorites:

1. The Purple Pig

Named one of Bon Appetit’s “10 Best New Restaurants in America” in 2010, the Purple Pig has a rustic feel with a focus on pork, although the menu has many other standout dishes. They have some shareable plates on the menu, too, which is a great way to share a Valentine’s Day meal with your sweetie.

Split the salt and vinegar beef tendon chips for an appetizer, and then try the milk braised pork shoulder with mashed potatoes or the Greek style chicken. Follow your meal with some brown butter panna cotta or pistachio cake.

2. NoMi Kitchen

Located in the Park Hyatt, NoMi Kitchen was named one of the 10 best hotel restaurants in the world. Sit in NoMi Kitchen and enjoy the chic, contemporary setting while looking out at the panoramic view of the city. Or, head up to the seventh floor of the hotel and enjoy the NoMi Lounge.

At the Kitchen, you can try the beef tartare to start, then order the rainbow trout to share with your date and a side of mac and cheese. For dessert, try their handmade ice cream of sorbet. Or, stop by the Lounge and try the handmade seasonal pickles for an appetizer and their sushi or sashimi for your main.

3. Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, and Stone Crab

If you’re looking for a place where you and your Valentine can feel fancy, have your Valentine’s Day meal at Joe’s. It has a supper club setting, and the tuxedoed staff will make your evening feel even more special. They have a wide range of seafood dishes to try, from stone crab to fish and chips to Chilean seabass.

Try the fried calamari or steak tartare for a starter, and then have a classic hamburger, porterhouse with a baked potato, or the crispy fried shrimp with a side of fried asparagus. For dessert, try the cheesecake.

4. Shanghai Terrace

Zagat named Shanghai Terrace the “Best Chinese Restaurant in Chicago.” It offers amazing cocktails, delicious food, and a 1930s supper club decor. Located in the Peninsula Hotel, they offer a special Valentine's Day menu that consists of five courses and dessert.

If you come here to celebrate, you can enjoy a dim sum trio, fried prawns, westlake beef chowder, sweet and sour chicken, spicy lamb with black bean sauce, and green tea and white chocolate raspberry cake for dessert.

5. Bandera

A Bandera, they have live jazz every night and a menu of American food with a southwestern twist. Stop in the comfortable and inviting restaurant and enjoy the view of Michigan Avenue while you enjoy the famous skillet cornbread, fresh and still warm from the oven.

Try the spinach and artichoke dip to start. For the main course, try a burger, Seattle style BBQ salmon, or their aged and seasoned prime rib. Add some tabbouleh, or some hand cut french fries as a side and finish it off with some apple walnut cobbler or homemade Oreo ice cream sandwiches.

The Magnificent Mile is a wonderful place to spend Valentine’s Day with that special someone. As you can see, there are a variety of cuisines available, each with its own distinct atmosphere. You’re sure to find the perfect place for a meal with your Valentine. Remember, Valentine’s Day dinner is a great time to indulge. Just remember to brush your teeth when you get home.

If you have any questions about how to take care of your teeth, or if you'd like to book an appointment with Chicago's number one dentistry, Water Tower Dental Care, contact us today.

​Are Bananas Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

February 2nd, 2017

bananas good bad teethFruits are known to have incredible nutritional value, though some of these vitamin-packed fruits may damage your teeth over time. One fruit that gets a lot of attention with regard to teeth, are bananas.

Although bananas are packed with potassium, some studies have suggested that bananas could have some unintended consequences on oral health.

There are both negative and positive aspects of bananas, and leveraging the danger to your teeth means taking a close look at how these factors influence oral health.

This post will take an in-depth look at whether bananas really are good or bad for your teeth, examining the positive and negative aspects of this popular—and delicious—fruit.

Positive Effects of Bananas on Your Teeth

When determining the impact of fruit on teeth, pH values are important. Lower pH values correlate with higher levels of acidity. Dentists commonly recommend staying away from consuming acidic foods, as they slowly wear away tooth enamel.

With a pH value of 4.5-5.2, bananas have remarkably low levels of acidity when compared to other fruits, making them a safe choice for healthy teeth.

Bananas have even been proven to whiten teeth, particularly when considering the peel. A banana peel has tons of potassium, magnesium, and manganese, three minerals which can remove stains and create a brighter smile.

Not only can a banana peel whiten teeth, but with high levels of calcium and vitamin D, it can also make them stronger. Calcium helps reinforce the jawbone and enamel, while vitamin D assists the body in absorbing calcium. Put together, calcium and vitamin D are a potent force in maintaining oral health.

In short, the positive effects of bananas on your teeth are:

  • Low acidity: A mild pH value means that bananas should not contribute to eroding enamel
  • Whitening qualities: The minerals in a banana peel can help remove stains, creating whiter teeth
  • Vitamins & minerals: Calcium and vitamin D are essential to building strong, healthy teeth, and both can be found in bananas

Negative Effects of Bananas on Your Teeth

While bananas have plenty of valuable vitamins and minerals, there are some negative aspects to consider when thinking about oral health.

Bananas have high levels of starch, which dissolves slowly and can harm teeth. Without proper oral hygiene, starch particles can stick to crevices in-between teeth, attracting bacteria and creating cavities.

The sweet and delectable taste of bananas comes from a high sugar content, typically about 14 grams. High sugar is a pitfall of nearly all fruits. Natural sugars allow bacteria on teeth to produce acid, leading to tooth decay over time.

When consumed in excess, the pH value of bananas can certainly become detrimental. While 4.5-5.2 is relatively low in comparison to other acid levels, eating large quantities of bananas can potentially contribute to a loss of enamel.

In short, the negative effects of bananas on your teeth are:

  • Starch: Can stick to teeth and invade crevasses, promoting cavities
  • Sugar: Allows for acid production on teeth, leading to tooth decay
  • pH level: Although relatively low, large quantities of bananas may erode enamel over time


All fruits have important health benefits, and bananas are a prime example of a delicious, nutrient-dense fruit.

Of course, as with any food, moderation is key. Excessive consumption can certainly outweigh the health benefits, just as poor hygiene.

Although there are potentially negative aspects of bananas, the key word here is “potential.” Practicing proper oral hygiene—brushing and flossing throughout the day—is more than enough to keep the negative aspects at bay, leaving room for all the positive nutritional values that come with bananas.

For more tips on oral health or teeth whitening, please contact us to learn more.

​Does Apple Cider Vinegar Whiten Teeth?

December 22nd, 2016

​Does Apple Cider Vinegar Whiten Teeth?Apple cider vinegar has long been touted as a natural health remedy. It can aid digestion, help control blood sugar levels, alleviate sunburns, make hair shinier, and maybe even play a role in weight loss!

Another claim about the benefits of using apple cider vinegar is that it can act as a natural tooth whitener. Is the miracle cure apple cider vinegar really a whitening agent and, if so, how safe is it to use at home?

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Vinegar is a sour liquid made during a fermentation process that converts sugar to alcohols and then the alcohol into acetic acid. Apple cider vinegar, which has about 5% acidity, comes from apples and plain water. It’s used for marinades, salad dressings, pickling, and a wide variety of home remedies, including teeth whitening.

The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar has been reported to help remove plaque from teeth and remedy stains caused by smoking or drinking red wine or coffee. Apple cider vinegar is also touted for improving overall mouth health by killing “bad” bacteria and fostering healthy bacteria.

Nearly everyone wants brilliant white movie star teeth, and apple cider vinegar could be an easy, accessible way to get a little closer to that goal. Instead of making expensive, time-consuming teeth whitening products or in-office appointments, just reach in the pantry!

Mixed with water and used as a rinse or mouthwash, or combined with baking soda and rubbed directly onto the teeth as a paste, apple cider vinegar is getting recognition as an all-natural alternative to traditional whitening mouthwashes and toothpaste. But is it as great as some people say?

Potential Risks of Vinegar as a Whitening Agent

As with any “cure-all” treatment, there’s a catch. Apple cider vinegar is very acidic, with a pH of 3.075, and using too much can damage the tooth enamel, which starts to erode at a pH of 5.5.

Enamel erosion will actually make the tooth surfaces appear darker as the shiny white outer layer breaks down. When the protective outer enamel becomes weakened from too much acidity, it can lead to tooth sensitivity.

Although sometimes ingested to help ward off minor illnesses like colds and sore throats, swallowing undiluted apple cider vinegar can also cause throat irritation.

The Best Way to Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Whiten Teeth

To safely use apple cider vinegar as an organic, all-natural tooth-whitening agent, the key is to dilute and use sparingly. Create a rinse of one part apple cider vinegar and two parts water, and gently swish around the mouth for about one minute.

To avoid damaging the enamel, be sure to dilute the vinegar before it comes in contact with the teeth. After rinsing, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing teeth. Even diluted, the vinegar can be abrasive, and applying a rough toothbrush to the tooth’s enamel surfaces right away can do more harm than good.

Apple cider vinegar as a whitening rinse won’t lead to immediately brighter, whiter teeth. Consistent use over time – making sure to dilute to avoid enamel erosion – can eventually lead to a whiter smile. Always be sure to consult a dentist first to make sure it’s the best choice. Often, manufactured mouthwashes and toothpaste can deliver visible results more quickly without the risks, although they typically are not all-natural products.

With careful use, apple cider vinegar may be a smart option for organic tooth whitening. As with any product, natural or manufactured, consult a health professional before use and use in moderation for the greatest benefit with minimal risk.

Want another option for whiter teeth? Water Tower Dental Care offers Zoom! Teeth Whitening. Zoom! is a leading teeth whitening system that brightens smiles up to eight shades in about an hour. For more information on Zoom! or other tips for a healthier, whiter smile, Contact us to learn more.

Is Hydrogen Peroxide Bad for Your Teeth?

November 3rd, 2016

Is Hydrogen Peroxide Bad for Your Teeth?Hydrogen peroxide is a medicine cabinet staple. Used for cleaning up scrapes and cuts, it also offers directions for oral use right on the label. But can it be harmful to your teeth? 

What is Hydrogen Peroxide?

Hydrogen Peroxide is an oxidizing agent in clear liquid form. Chemically, all it is is water with an extra oxygen molecule. It acts as a mild antiseptic to prevent skin infections due to cuts and scrapes and can also be used to relieve minor mouth irritations and mucus. When applied to the affected area, the hydrogen peroxide releases oxygen and bubbles up, and the bubbles help clean and disinfect the area by lifting away dead skin cells.

How Do Dentists Use It?

Dentists first used hydrogen peroxide as a treatment for gum disease back in 1913, according to Registered Dental Hygienist Magazine (RDH). It is still used to fight gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums that can be a precursor to periodontitis. It occurs when the bacteria from plaque builds up, causing inflammation, and potentially leading to bleeds when brushing teeth. Rinsing with hydrogen peroxide under these circumstances kills the harmful bacteria and can prevent the inflammation from getting worse, so dentists may recommend it for certain patients.

Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis is left untreated, and the gums and bone pull away from the tooth, creating pockets that can become infected. Dentists use custom-fit prescription trays to deliver the hydrogen peroxide deep into the periodontal pockets and hold it there for more effective treatment of periodontal disease.

Hydrogen peroxide is also a whitening agent and is sometimes used by dentists to help with tooth whitening. The bottled hydrogen peroxide available in stores is generally 3% concentration, but products designed for dentists to use for tooth bleaching can contain up to 10% hydrogen peroxide.

Some over-the-counter whitening products like toothpaste, rinses, and whitening strips contain hydrogen peroxide as their bleaching agent. At home, it can also be combined with baking soda to make natural whitening toothpaste.

Can Hydrogen Peroxide Be Bad for Your Teeth? 

Many dentists do not recommend regular use of hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash or rinse. Regular use can cause irritation of the gums and can be too harsh for those with crowns, fillings, and dental implants.

Some dentists believe hydrogen peroxide can safely be used as an oral rinse if it is diluted with a mixture of water and Listerine. But because it can be so harsh on the gums and enamel, it should only be used if recommended by a dentist. There are other oral rinses available over the counter that contain hydrogen peroxide and may be less abrasive and therefore more suitable for regular use.

Is it Safe to Use at Home?

Hydrogen peroxide on its own should not be used for dental purposes at home unless directed by a dentist. If diluted in a solution of one-part hydrogen peroxide, one-part water, and one part Listerine, it is safe to use as a rinse and could be helpful for the treatment of gingivitis.

Consult a dentist to determine if such a solution is beneficial or if there are other treatments or rinses that would be safer. Hydrogen peroxide combined with baking soda can be used as a natural, at-home whitening toothpaste, but using correct proportions is key to ensuring it’s more helpful than harmful. At Water Tower Dental Care, we offer take-home teeth whitening trays that contain a safe yet effective amount of hydrogen peroxide-bleaching agent.

As always, when considering any at-home remedies, particularly for treating diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis, it’s important to consult a dentist to determine the safest, most effective form of treatment. It’s always safer to purchase ADA-approved products with hydrogen peroxide or receive professional treatments from your dentist. Making your own concoction could be more harmful than beneficial.

If you think you have gum disease or want to whiten your teeth, contact Water Tower Dental Care today! We can examine your pearly whites and put you on a path to effective treatment.

Not All Water is Equal: Is Sparkling Water Bad for Your Teeth?

September 29th, 2016

Is Sparkling Water Bad for Your Teeth?With water making up close to 60% of the average human body, there’s no better choice when it’s time to rehydrate. Experts tout plain water as the healthiest option – it’s calorie-free, caffeine-free, sugar-free – but if that tastes too boring, why not just add bubbles?

Sparkling water shares the same healthful characteristics as plain water, but if it’s all you drink, the extra carbonation could be bad news for your teeth.

Why Can Sparkling Water Bad for Your Teeth?

To make sparkling water, carbon dioxide gas is dissolved in regular water, creating carbonic acid. The acid gives the water its fizz and makes it more appealing than plain water, but the higher acidity can cause problems for the teeth. Beverages like soda and citrus juices are known for their higher acidity and potential for acid erosion, and while sparkling water is healthier than many options, it also carries the risk of damaging tooth enamel.

Pure water has a level of 7, or neutral, on the pH scale, the measurement of how acidic or basic a substance is. A measurement below 7 means more acidity. Sparkling water generally measures between 5 and 7 depending on the brand, mineral levels, and other added ingredients. For comparison, the pH of soda is between 2 and 4, while fruit juices are usually between 3 and 5.

When frequently consumed over time, the carbonic acid in carbonated beverages like sparkling water can cause the tooth enamel to begin to erode.

The enamel is the hard, protective outer layer of the tooth, and it can start to dissolve in conditions where the pH level is below 5.5.

If the enamel becomes too worn by repeated exposure to high acidity over time, the next layer – known as dentin – could become exposed. This can cause the appearance of discoloration because dentin isn't shiny and white like the enamel. It can also lead to an increased sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages.

How to Keep Your Teeth Healthy While Drinking Sparkling Water

While regular water is still the overwhelming best choice, sparkling water is still a healthier choice than soda or juice when consumed in moderation, and there are ways you can prevent damage to your teeth while you indulge.

  • Use a straw! Drinking sparkling water and other carbonated beverages through a straw helps keep teeth strong by minimizing the contact between the carbonic acid and tooth enamel.
  • Drink it plain. Flavored sparkling water often has added sugars, which can compound the damage to weak enamel. Adding a wedge of fresh lemon or lime is a sure way to add flavor without calories, but it’s not any better for the teeth. Lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits have a higher acidity, which can increase the potential for enamel erosion.
  • Indulge with a meal. Instead of sipping sparkling water throughout the day, save it to enjoy during mealtimes. Chewing increases the production of saliva, helping to neutralize the effect of acid on tooth enamel.
  • Chase it with plain water. Drinking regular water after drinking sparkling water will help rinse the teeth and prevent wear to the enamel.
  • Wait 30-40 minutes before brushing. It might seem like a good idea to get rid of any acidic residue by brushing your teeth immediately after drinking a fizzy beverage, but it could make things worse. Right after drinking a carbonated drink, the tooth surface is slightly weakened. Sipping regular water and allowing saliva to help rinse the enamel will protect the teeth before it’s time to brush.

If you’ve been sipping on carbonated water all day, every day for a while now, you may want to schedule a dentist appointment to see if there’s been any damage has been done to your teeth. As Chicago’s number one dentistry, Water Tower Dental Care can put you on a path to a strong, vibrant and beautiful smile.


Is Fluoride Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

August 11th, 2016

Is Fluoride Good or Bad for Your Teeth?Over the years, the use of fluoride in both water and toothpaste has been very controversial. Some people argue that fluoride can cause serious health issues, while experts have found that fluoride can significantly improve dental health. So what’s the truth? Today, we’re going to look at the scientific facts to determine whether fluoride is good or bad for your teeth.

What is It?

Remember that periodic table you were forced to learn about in high school? Well fluorine is on that table. The fluoride ion comes from fluorine, which is an element. Fluorine is found naturally all over the earth, in soil, food, water, and minerals. Fluoride can also be made in laboratories to be added to water and dental products, like toothpaste. Fluoride is commonly added to water to reduce tooth decay in communities.

Why is Fluoride Good for Your Teeth?

Studies have shown that adding fluoride to water has reduced dental decay by 20 to 40%, according to American Dental Association (ADA). That’s a huge positive effect! In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that adding fluoride to water is one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.
So why is fluoride so good for your teeth? When you consume fluoride, it collects in areas that are high in calcium, including your teeth. This helps teeth in several ways:

  • When children with developing teeth eat or drink fluoride in safe amounts, it builds up inside their teeth. This provides them with extra lasting strength and protection against acids.
  • Fluoride can also strengthen enamel in adult teeth. When you eat or drink fluoride, it becomes a part of your saliva. Since your saliva constantly soaks your teeth, it provides your teeth’s surface with fluoride, strengthening enamel and preventing decay.
  • Topical fluoride, like toothpaste and mouthwash, help to make the surface of your teeth more resistant to decay.
  • Your saliva works to keep your enamel hard by constantly replenishing your teeth with minerals, like calcium and phosphorous. When there’s fluoride in your saliva along with these other minerals, the minerals that replenish your teeth are extra strong. This keeps your teeth as hard and protected against decay as possible.

As long as you have healthy teeth and a low risk of tooth decay, drinking water that contains a safe amount of fluoride and brushing regularly with a fluoride toothpaste should provide you with a sufficient amount of fluoride.

Can Fluoride Be Bad for Your Teeth?

If fluoride is so great for your teeth, why is it so controversial? Some people think that it can cause serious health issues, including cancer, kidney failure or bone disease. It’s true that too much fluoride may cause issues. But as long as it is consumed properly, it is safe and effective, according to the ADA. In fact, for generations, millions of people have been drinking natural water with fluoride in higher concentrations than those now recommended.
Since fluoride in toothpastes and mouthwashes isn’t ingested, the real fear people have is when it’s found in water, other drinks and food. The ADA notes that 60 years of research and practical experience has given us sufficient evidence that indicates that fluoride in community water is safe and effective. American Cancer Society (ACA) also states that the general consensus of scientific reviews is that there’s no strong evidence of a link between fluoride in water and cancer. However, more research can be done to clarify the link.
As long as you use fluoride in the correct dosage, it should provide safe and effective protection against tooth decay. You should never swallow toothpaste, mouthwash, or other dental products that warn against ingestion. If you or your child receives fluoride supplements, you or your child must take only the amount that is prescribed to avoid overdose. If you’re worried about the amount of fluoride in your local public water, the ACA recommends contacting your local community water system.

Where Can You Get It?

There are many ways you can get fluoride to support your dental health. Just make sure to follow the indicated instructions and use the correct dose. Here are some common sources of fluoride:

  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Water
  • Dietary fluoride supplements
  • Food
  • Beverages
  • Professionally applied foams, gels and varnishes

It’s important that you get enough fluoride to keep your teeth healthy. If you’re worried that you’re experiencing tooth decay, come on into Water Tower Dental Care! We can help you find out if you need more fluoride and can tell you the most efficient way to get it. Feel free to contact us today!

5 Amazing Foods that Make Your Breath Smell Great

June 23rd, 2016

5 Amazing Foods that Make Your Breath Smell GreatFood products like garlic and onion are known to cause bad breath. But did you know that some foods can actually help your breath smell good? It’s true. Mints aren’t the only solution to a stinky mouth. Here are five foods that can actually make your breath smell great!


Dairy isn’t just great for your pearly whites. Dairy products like yogurt and cheese are also pretty good at fighting off bad breath. Cheese neutralizes acids after you’ve eaten, making sure that they don’t give off any sour smells. Probiotic yogurts with live active cultures can reduce sulfite compounds in your mouth that cause bad breath. The vitamin D in these yogurts also reduces smelly mouth bacteria.

Crunchy Apples and Celery

An apple a day keeps the smell away. Crisp and crunchy foods like apples and celery actually clean your teeth, removing soft and sticky food that’s stuck there. These foods can also push plaque away from your teeth when you bite into them. Just because they do some scrubbing doesn’t mean you should skip brushing or flossing. But apples and celery are a great snack between meals to keep your mouth smelling fresh.

Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are extremely flavorful and aromatic, so it’s no surprise they can keep bad breath at bay. These seeds work to neutralize bad smells in your mouth. But along with that, they actually have antibacterial properties, giving them the power to fight off bacteria that causes bad breath.


If you’ve ever taken a bite out of ginger, you know it packs a punch. Ginger is regularly used to clean your palate. And it also gets rid of bad breath with its powerful flavor. Just make sure you like the flavor of ginger before you bite into it or make a drink with it, because you can’t plug your nose to escape its flavor.

Fruits That Pack a Lot of Vitamin C

Along with keeping your body healthy, vitamin C keeps bad breath away. The bacteria that causes bad breath can’t actually grow very well in environments filled with vitamin C. Fruits that also contain a lot of water, like melons and citrus fruit, can wash rotting food and bacteria away. Try eating strawberries, cantaloupe or oranges next time you notice your breath smelling funky.
We hope you give these foods a try next time you have bad breath. If you can’t seem to get rid of the smell, feel free to contact Water Tower Dental Care. If you have a dental issue causing your bad breath, we’ll get to the bottom of it!

Is Ice Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

June 9th, 2016

Is Ice Good or Bad for Your Teeth?The food and drink you put into your mouth can make all of the difference when it comes to your dental health. When some people drink water, soda, or other drinks with ice, they may experience tooth pain. Does this mean ice is bad for your teeth? Let’s take a look now.

Is ice good or bad for your teeth?

Since ice is just frozen water, the real question we should be asking is whether or not water is good for your teeth. The answer is yes! Since many American communities add fluoride to their public water, water can actually strengthen your teeth without you doing anything extra! The reason communities started adding more fluoride to water (since water already naturally contains fluoride) was to help reduce tooth decay. Your ice cubes should contain fluoride as well!
Like water, ice can also prevent you from having a dry mouth. What’s the problem with dry mouth? Well, saliva swishes away bacteria and food particles, and strengthens your teeth naturally with calcium, fluoride and phosphate. When you suck on ice or drink water, you keep your mouth moist.

When ice is bad for your teeth

Just because ice can be good for your teeth doesn’t mean it always is. Chewing on ice is a common habit that many people form. It can lead to a variety of serious dental issues, including a broken, cracked or chipped tooth, enamel damage, a sore jaw, and issues with fillings and crowns. These incidents tend to increase during the summer months.
Instead of chewing ice, it’s best that you let ice melt in your mouth or in your drink. If you have an addiction to chewing ice, we recommend that you carry carrots, celery, or apples with you when you’re feeling the urge to chew. Don’t hesitate to speak with us if you’re having trouble kicking your ice addiction.

Why does ice hurt your teeth?

Since we already covered the fact that ice is good for your teeth, why do so many people experience pain when ice comes into contact with their mouth? This issue comes down to a problem with your mouth - not frozen water. You probably notice similar pain or discomfort when you eat anything cold, including ice cream and popsicles. This may be because you have sensitive teeth.
Sensitive teeth are usually nothing to be worried about. In fact, millions of people in the U.S. have sensitive teeth. You can work to make your teeth less sensitive by using toothpaste that is specifically designed for sensitive teeth, avoiding highly acidic foods and drinks, and making sure you’re not brushing your teeth too hard or with bristles that are too strong.
If you experience very sensitive teeth for three days or more, you may have a more serious problem. It’s best to contact your dentist at this point to see if you’re experiencing tooth decay or gum disease. If you’re in Chicago and are experiencing this problem, feel free to contact us today! We can help you figure out why your teeth are so sensitive.

Is Baking Soda Actually Good for Your Teeth?

May 12th, 2016

Baking Soda for Brushing TeethIf you’re a fan of DIY dental care, you’ve probably heard of using baking soda to clean and whiten your teeth. Before you take on any DIY healthcare you read about online, it’s important to do your research. Using baking soda too regularly could cause irreversible damage to your enamel. However, that doesn’t mean you should never use baking soda on your teeth. Let’s explore if baking soda is actually good for your teeth now.

What is Baking Soda?

In many people’s homes, baking soda doesn’t leave the kitchen. But baking soda actually has a tremendous variety uses. From cleaning your bathroom to making your clothes smell better, it’s pretty amazing to see what baking soda can do.
Technically speaking, baking soda is a salt called sodium bicarbonate. It usually comes in the form of white powder, though it can also be seen as a small crystal. Along with a host of other uses, baking soda has become a popular ingredient for cleaning teeth

Why Do People Use Baking Soda On Their Teeth?

So why would people use a popular baking ingredient on their teeth? Well, baking soda has actually proven to provide some pretty great teeth cleaning benefits. According to the Journal of Clinical Dentistry, those who brushed their teeth with baking soda experienced significantly better plaque removal than those who brushed their teeth without baking soda.
Baking soda has also been found to effectively remove surface stains on teeth, making them look whiter. However, baking soda can only help with surface stains. For more severe stains, you will want to speak to your dentist about professional teeth whitening treatments. Finally, it can also make your breath smell better and it’s incredibly cheap - typically around $1 for a box that will last a while.
How does a simple household product provide all of these benefits? Baking soda is made up of a chemical compound that makes it a mild abrasive. Baking soda’s abrasiveness allows it to clean stains off of your teeth so well. Though the American Dental Association (ADA) has not approved brushing teeth with just baking soda, they have accepted toothpaste with baking soda in it.

How Can Baking Soda Be Bad For Your Teeth?

Just because baking soda has been found to be good for your teeth in some instances doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious with it. Overdoing it with baking soda can cause irreversible damage to your teeth. And, like we mentioned above, the ADA has not approved brushing your teeth with pure baking soda.
Since baking soda is abrasive, you can cause irreversible damage to your teeth’s enamel by eroding it if you continue to use it over time. This erosion can cause your teeth to become sensitive and makes you more vulnerable to cavities.
Baking soda also doesn’t contain fluoride, so you will need to use a regular toothpaste as well to ensure your teeth stay strong and to prevent cavities.
Finally, you will want to avoid using baking soda on your teeth if you wear braces or permanent retainers. Baking soda can soften the glue in braces and permanent retainers. The last thing you want to do is pay for new braces due to baking soda.
While baking soda can be an excellent way to keep your teeth looking and feeling healthy, you need to make sure you’re using it safely. At Water Tower Dental Care, we can recommend safe and effective dental care products that include baking soda to ensure that you are keeping your teeth as healthy as they can be. If you have more severe teeth staining than baking soda can help with, contact us to discuss professional teeth whitening. We can brighten your teeth up to eight shades in about one hour with Zoom! Teeth Whitening!

Is Salt Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

February 25th, 2016

Is Salt Good or Bad for your Teeth?Salt, or sodium, has often said to be both good and bad for your teeth. While high sodium-intake has generally been associated with many detrimental effects, (which is why healthy eating has also been associated with staying away from food rich in sodium) many people practicing good oral hygiene will rinse their mouth with salt. Is salt actually good or bad for your teeth? Here are some of the pros and cons:

Why Salt Can Be Good for Your Teeth

The sodium chemical itself has proved itself to be good for your teeth in a few ways:

  1. Short term, saltwater mouthwash rinses are great treatments for your mouth and any wounds you may have. If you’ve had oral surgery recently, infections, or gum swelling, saltwater will help to remove swelling, as it is a natural disinfectant.
  2. Salt helps to increase the pH balance in your mouth, making it hard for abrasive bacteria to survive in this alkaline environment.
  3. According to the American Dental Association, salt is a common ingredient in foaming detergents in toothpaste, which helps toothpaste stay in your mouth, preventing dribbling.

Why Salt Can Be Bad for Your Teeth

While salt washes have been commonly used and are considered good for your teeth, the opposite is true of sodium-rich food. Sodium may not directly cause tooth decay, but sodium-rich diets have been found to be bad for your teeth. Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. Oral bacteria thrive on simple sugars, which are produced when you ingest food or beverages rich in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, crackers, tend to be rich in sodium. These foods are broken down into simple sugars and starches. The interaction between oral bacteria and simple sugars create harsh acids that have the same effect as sugary food, eroding tooth enamel and leading to tooth decay.
  2. Teeth often rely on calcium to produce structure and strength. A high-sodium diet causes your body to excrete excess calcium, leading to tooth loss and even osteoporosis!

In conclusion, while, salt has been found to have many positive effects on teeth, a sodium-rich diet can have various detrimental effects, similar to a sugary diet. To avoid cavities and tooth decay, strive to have a diet low in sodium. Tooth decay can also be prevented through brushing, flossing, and proper oral hygiene. If your teeth have been affected, let Water Tower Dental help you today!

Chicago's Iconic Food Showdown: Which Chicago Food Is Worst For Your Teeth?

January 28th, 2016

Chicago's Iconic Food Showdown: Which Chicago Food Is Worst For Your Teeth?When it comes to food, there’s really no end to deliciousness in Chicago. From world famous pizza to the Puerto Rican-inspired jibarito, regional specialties have prospered in the Windy City. This week, we’re going to take a look at Chicago’s three most iconic foods and see how good they are for your teeth. Let’s do this.

Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza

The most envied and renowned of all Chicago’s food offerings is by far its treasured deep dish pizza. In Chicago, pizza isn’t some sort of snack or late-night afterthought. It’s a hearty meal baked in a deep pan and piled with gooey cheese, rich tomato sauce and other delicious ingredients.
But is it good for your teeth? Yes and no. Cheese is one of your teeth’s best friends, providing your pearly whites with calcium, phosphates and vitamin D. These minerals help reduce your risk of tooth decay, guard your teeth from acid and help your enamel stabilize and repair itself.
The bad news for your teeth comes in the form of tomato sauce. Tomatoes are highly acidic. If you eat pizza too often or you let pizza sit in your mouth for a while, the acids from the tomatoes can start breaking down your enamel. The starch in pizza can also be easily converted to enamel-eroding sugars.
Conclusion: Though Chicago’s pizza has a bunch of tooth-loving cheese in it, it also has lots of starch and tomato sauce. It’s not the worst food for your teeth, but it’s definitely not the best. Thankfully, your teeth will be just fine as long as long as you eat pizza in moderation.

Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

Unlike most of the United States, it’s a cardinal sin to put ketchup on a hot dog in Chicago. The typical Chicago-style hot dog is made up an all-beef hot dog, steamed poppy seed bun, yellow mustard, tomato wedges, hot peppers, a pickle spear, chopped onions, celery salt, and relish. We like to call it a little piece of heaven.
So now let’s break it down into the good and bad for your mouth. The all-beef hot dog is all-good for your teeth. Meats are packed with phosphorus, a mineral that helps to keep your enamel protected. It also has calcium, which we know is great for our teeth. Unfortunately, the starchy bun contains sugars that will attack your enamel, and pickles are one of the worst foods for your teeth.
Conclusion: If you cut out some of the hot dog toppings that are bad for your teeth, like pickles, pickled relish and tomato wedges, you’ll have a dog that’s actually pretty good for your mouth. Some Chicagoans may call this a sin, but we call it a toothy upgrade.

Italian Beef

In Chicago, there’s nothing juicier than Italian beef. It doesn’t get better than sandwiches packed with thin slices of roast beef on top of an Italian-style roll dripping with meat juices. You might top the sandwich off with Chicago-style giardiniera (Italian-American relish) or friggitello.
Again, the phosphorus beef is great for your teeth. But if the giardiniera or friggitello is pickled in vinegar, it’s not so good for your teeth. The acids from the vinegar will aggressively eat away at your enamel if you eat too many pickled veggies or fruits.
Conclusion: Knock off the pickled toppings and you’ve got a Chicago-style food item that’s pretty good for your teeth! Since Italian beef is mostly made up of lots and lots of beef, and beef is tooth-friendly, your teeth will happily munch on this one.

Final Thoughts

We’ll have to give the title of “worst Chicago-style food for your teeth” to Chicago-style hot dogs. The starchy bun and official toppings won’t make your pearly whites any healthier. However, as long as you don’t eat a dog a day and practice proper oral hygiene, your teeth will be just fine. Munching on these Chicago delights every once in awhile won’t do your teeth any significant harm.

Is Lemon Juice Actually Bad For Your Teeth?

January 7th, 2016

Is Lemon Juice Actually Bad For Your Teeth?When it’s mixed with something, lemon is one of the most refreshing flavors out there. There’s nothing like sipping on a cold glass of lemonade under the sun, or drinking a cup of hot lemon water on a rainy morning. Unfortunately, your enamel doesn’t think lemon is as tasty as your tastebuds do. In fact, your teeth react to it pretty sourly. Though lemon juice can taste good and has some health benefits, it’s pretty bad for your teeth if it comes into contact with them. Let’s take a look at why now.

Why Is Lemon Juice Bad for Your Teeth?

Lemon juice is one of the most erosive ingredients out there. During a study comparing fruit juices and beverages published in the Journal of Endourology, lemon juice had the highest citric acid content of all the juices studied. Acids are your enamel’s biggest enemy. When you eat a lemon or drink lemon juice, the acids from the juice stick to your teeth and wear away your enamel. The acids also help feed bacteria to form plaque and tartar, which lead to cavities.

So What’s A Lemon Good For?

Just because lemons are bad for your teeth doesn’t mean you should avoid them forever. Lemons are very nutritious. Lemon juice contains pectin fibre, calcium and potassium, and is a great source of Vitamin C.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Vitamin C is essential for the growth and repair of tissues throughout your body. It’s also an antioxidant. Antioxidants may help to fight off physical aging and health issues including cancer, arthritis and heart disease. Lemon juice also improves digestion, according to Global Healing Center.

How To Stop Your Teeth From Going Sour Because of Lemon Juice

Because we love your teeth so much, we recommend switching to regular water instead of a beverage with lemon juice for your everyday drink of choice. Lemon juice really can do severe damage to your teeth over time, and you can get the nutrients from someplace else!

If you continue to drink lemon juice regularly, you can easily limit the damage it does to your teeth. Here are just a few ideas!

  • Use a straw while drinking beverages with lemon juice. Try to make sure the liquid goes directly into your throat rather than sitting in your mouth. The goal is to keep it from coming into contact with your teeth.

  • If you do drink a beverage with lemon juice without using a straw, drink water too. The water should wash away some of the acids that are trying to stick onto your teeth.

  • Don’t brush your teeth right after you’re done drinking lemon juice. Since your enamel is weakened by the lemon’s acids, brushing can easily damage your teeth. Instead, wait about 30 minutes to an hour before brushing.

  • Immediately rinse out your mouth with water or mouthwash. Since you shouldn’t brush your teeth after consuming lemon juice, washing out your mouth is the next best thing. Swishing with water or mouthwash after you’re done will help to wash away the acids.

  • Visit a dentist to see if your lemon juice habits are affecting your teeth. This way, you’ll know whether you should stop. If lemon juice has already significantly damaged your teeth, we can help with Enamel Remineralization Treatment!

Got any more questions about lemon juice and your teeth? Contact Chicago’s number one general and cosmetic dentistry! We’d love to help you keep your teeth as healthy and strong as possible.


Keep it Clean: Most Common Food That Gets Stuck in Your Teeth

November 27th, 2015

Keep it Clean: Most Common Food That Gets Stuck in Your TeethWe’ve all been there. Eating lunch with a coworker or a friend and getting a big piece of food stuck in our teeth. They may point out that you have something stuck in between your pearly whites and you may quickly work to get it out. Or, even worse, you might notice it afterwards in the mirror and know that they were too hesitant to point it out.
Not only can getting food stuck in your teeth be embarrassing, but it can also be uncomfortable and even painful. Worst of all, leaving food lodged between your teeth to rot can cause serious dental issues, like cavities and gum decay. Here are some of the biggest food culprits that like to stay wedged between your teeth. Make sure to bring floss along when you’re planning to eat these food items.

Poppy Seeds, Sesame Seeds... Pretty Much All Seeds

Seeds are probably the most frustrating of all the foods on this list. You can’t really eat around them if they are in your meal or snack because they are so small. And once seeds are stuck in your teeth, it can be incredibly hard to dig them out of there because of their size. If you wear braces, it’s best to stay away from food that contains seeds. They can bend or break your wires if they get lodged in the right place.


The buttery, salty goodness of popcorn is the perfect companion during a comforting movie. But its aftermath is enough to put many of us off of it. Sharp kernel pieces can shove their way between your gums and teeth, especially in your molars, causing pain, discomfort and a dangerous space for bacteria to breed. Next time you eat popcorn, try to pay attention to how you’re eating it to avoid discomfort at best, and gum issues at worst.

Sticky Candy

Most of us love the sugary sweetness of caramel, taffies and gummies. But most of us also know that these candies pretty much always stick to our teeth in the most annoying spots. Bacteria love sugar, so leaving these candies stuck to our teeth for hours at a time can easily result in cavities. Try swishing water in your mouth and flossing after you’re done munching on chewy candy, and brush about 30 minutes after eating.


The real issue with these delicious fruits isn’t the raspberries themselves. Rather, it’s the hundreds of tiny seeds inside of them. Just like poppy seeds and sesame seeds, raspberry seeds can get lodged in the most inconvenient spaces, particularly in your molar region, which is the hardest to reach.

Chewy Meat

Now that we’ve covered the small bites, it’s time to take a look at the big guys: meats. Chewy strings from steak, rib, chicken and beef can easily make their way into tight spaces between your chompers. If you marinate the meat with acidic, seasoned liquid, these pieces of meat can attract lots of bacteria that will eat away at your enamel.

Tips to Keep Food Out Of Your Teeth

Just because these food options are likely to get stuck in your teeth doesn’t mean you should stop eating them. Here are some tips from our dentists to keep your smile food-free:

What Does Xylitol Do For Your Teeth?

November 12th, 2015

What Does Xylitol Do For Your Teeth?Want to chew gum? Do it! As long as there’s xylitol in it, your dentist will approve. Xylitol is the perfect sugar alternative. Not only does it not cause tooth decay. It’s also good for your teeth. Yes, you heard that right. Something that tastes as wonderful as sugar actually benefits your teeth. Let’s take a look at why.

What is Xylitol?

Though it tastes like magic, xylitol can actually be all natural. It’s a five-carbon sugar alcohol compound. What does that mean? It’s not actually sugar or alcohol. Instead, it’s a carbohydrate that looks and tastes like sugar. But instead of damaging your teeth, xylitol actually protects it.
Xylitol is found naturally in plants, berries, and vegetables. It can also be manufactured from starches and sugar. Unfortunately, since we eat so much sugar, we can’t get enough xylitol from the foods we eat to sufficiently help our teeth. That’s why we brush, floss and take xylitol supplements.

How does it benefit your teeth?

To understand how Xylitol helps protect your teeth, you have to first understand how you get cavities. According to Registered Dental Hygienist, the average American consumes about 31 teaspoons of sugar every single day. Our teeth aren’t made to eat that much sugar. Inevitably, all of this sugar leads to tooth decay, usually in the form of cavities. The sugar in food causes bacteria in your mouth to grow. These bacteria create hungry acids that eat away at your teeth, causing tooth decay.
Bad bacteria can’t digest xylitol to grow like it digests sugar. In fact, xylitol works to keep the pH level neutral in your mouth. The less acidic your pH levels are, the fewer bacteria will grow and the better off your teeth will be.
Xylitol also stops bacteria from sticking to your teeth. So even if there are bacteria in your mouth after taking xylitol, it’s much less likely that the bacteria will damage your teeth because it can’t stick on to them.
Thanks to increased pH levels, xylitol also promotes enamel repair. As pH levels get higher than 7, calcium and phosphate salts in your saliva help to rebuild weak enamel.

Where can you get Xylitol?

Now that you know great xylitol is for your mouth, you’re probably wondering where you can get some. Since you usually eat sugar during the day, you should try taking xylitol throughout the day as well. You should always look for xylitol in toothpaste and mouthwash. Most of the big names in toothpaste and mouthwash include xylitol because of its benefits.
Since it can be inconvenient to carry your toothbrush and mouthwash around all day, it’s beneficial to have another source of xylitol on hand. Gum, candy and mints frequently have xylitol in them. These products can help you battle bacteria throughout the day. A 1998 article from The British Dental Journal writes that chewing gum containing xylitol prevents cavities and promotes enamel remineralization.  You can also find the sweetener in corncobs and stalks.
Consuming xylitol is one of the tastiest ways to keep your teeth healthy! Find out more about the benefits of xylitol and the best places to get it from by contacting the number one Chicago dental practice, Water Tower Dental Care. We would be happy to put you on the right track to a healthy and happy smile.

6 Healthy Foods That Are Surprisingly Bad For Your Teeth

October 8th, 2015

6 Healthy Foods That Are Surprisingly Bad For Your TeethJust because something is good for you doesn’t mean it’s good for your teeth. There’s a wide variety of food that nutritionists would consider healthy for you, but that can damage your teeth if you’re not careful. Here are the top 6 healthy foods that are surprisingly bad for your teeth.

Citrus Fruits (Grapefruits, Oranges and Lemons)

While fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruits are jam-packed with vitamin C and other important nutrients, they’re not so good for you teeth. Citrus fruits are very acidic and can erode your teeth’s enamel if not completely washed away.
Solution: You don’t have to stop eating citrus fruit to keep your mouth healthy! Immediately after eating a citrus fruit, wash your mouth out with water. Then, 30 minutes later, gently brush your teeth and use mouthwash to completely get rid of the acids.


Like citrus fruits, tomatoes are highly acidic, causing enamel and tooth erosion. And it isn’t just raw tomatoes that can do your teeth harm. Unfortunately, tomato sauces, soups and pizza can cause tooth erosion due to tomato’s acidity.
Solution: Mix tomatoes with other foods so that your teeth aren’t solely exposed to tomato acids. You can also immediately wash out your mouth with water, and then gently brush your teeth and use mouthwash 30 minutes after eating tomato-based foods just like you can do with citrus fruits. This way, you’ll get rid of the acids before they cause serious harm.


Acid is actually used in the pickling process to give pickles their trademark sour taste. This high acid content causes pickles to be closely linked to tooth erosion, according to this 2004 study.
Solution: As long as you don’t eat pickles daily, it’s unlikely that they will cause any serious problems for your teeth. If you do eat pickles regularly, wash your mouth out with water after you’ve finished eating and try to brush your teeth 30 minutes later to avoid serious harm to your teeth.


While apples have been found to be good for your teeth in some ways, they can also cause teeth erosion. Dental experts have found that apple’s acidic structure and increasingly high levels of sugar can cause erosion, according to The British Dental Association in a Daily Mail article.
Solution: Like with the other acidic foods, wash your mouth out with water after eating apples and brush 30 minutes later. You can also eat them with other food to minimize damage, and try eat your apple in one sitting instead of snacking on one for a while.

Dried Fruit

Though an easy snack, dried fruit is sticky and full of sugar. When it gets stuck to your teeth, which is inevitable, it creates a breeding ground for bacteria to eat away at the fruit’s sugar and your teeth.
Solution: Stick to fresh fruits if you can. If you do eat dried fruit, make sure to floss and brush away the dried fruit as completely as possible 30 minutes after you eat it.

Dark Teas

Black tea has a long list of health benefits, including fighting off free radicals and providing your body with antioxidants, according to It has even been found to fight off cavities. Still, tea has been found to potentially stain teeth even worse than coffee thanks to its higher tannin content, according to Colgate.
Solution: Drink water during and after you’re done drinking tea to reduce the likelihood that it will stain your teeth, and brush immediately afterwards. You can also switch to herbal tea, white tea or green tea, which are much less likely to cause stains and still provide health benefits.
Though these healthy foods may be bad for your teeth, it doesn’t mean you should stop eating them. Just make sure to follow our solutions and you’ll be on track to having healthy and beautiful looking teeth for years to come. Feel free to contact us with any questions! We would love to help.

5 Reasons Why Your Bottom Teeth May Hurt

September 24th, 2015

5 Reasons Why Your Bottom Teeth May HurtConstant tooth pain is irritating, and can be downright debilitating if it hurts enough. If you experience regular bottom teeth pain, the first thing you should do is visit your dentist so that whatever is wrong doesn’t get worse. But it doesn’t hurt to learn what might be causing your bottom teeth to hurt in the meantime. Here are 5 reasons why your bottom teeth may hurt.

You’ve Got A Cavity

Cavity Tooth Pain Symptoms: Typically, pain caused by cavities can be felt sharply, consistently and suddenly in one or more teeth when you bite down. Cavities can also cause sensitivity.
If you haven’t been getting rid of all of the plaque on and around your bottom teeth by brushing, flossing and using mouthwash, you may have cavity. Cavities can also be caused by gum recession. Cavities are holes in your teeth created by acids, which love eating away at your enamel. Thankfully, fixing a cavity is quick and easy. All your dentist has to do is fill it in with dental filling material.

Your Root Might Be Infected

Infected Root Tooth Pain Symptoms: If you experience a severe and constant bottom toothache that causes throbbing or shooting pain, you may have an abscessed tooth, or root infection. Your teeth may also feel sensitive to extreme temperatures and when biting down, and your gums and glands may be swollen.
Severe tooth decay is usually the reason why an infection develops at the root of your tooth. When acids have been allowed to dissolve your enamel for a while, bacteria infects the center of your tooth (the pulp) between your gum and your tooth. If you don’t see a dentist to cure your infection, it can spread to the bones that support your bottom teeth. A root canal can be performed to rid your teeth of the infection.

You’re Clenching and/or Grinding Your Teeth

Clenching/Grinding Tooth Pain Symptoms: If you bottom teeth pain is less severe, and more of a constant throbbing or achy pain, you may grind or clench your teeth too much.
Many people clench their teeth when they are concentrating or working out at the gym. You may also grind your teeth while you’re sound asleep. When you grind or clench your teeth often, you wear down your enamel, which exposes the tubes that lead to your nerves. This can lead to sensitivity and tooth pain. If you think you clench or grind your teeth, speak to your dentist about wearing a mouth guard.

You Fractured Your Tooth

Fractured Tooth Pain Symptoms: If you experience irregular pain in a bottom tooth when you’re chewing or when your tooth is exposed to extreme temperatures, you may have a fractured tooth.
The center of your tooth contains soft tissue, called the pulp, where your nerves are located. Your enamel and dentin, which is the hard layer underneath your enamel, protect your nerves. The closer your pulp is to being exposed, the more you irritate your nerves, which can cause pain and sensitivity. There are several different dental procedures that treat cracked teeth, depending on the severity, from crowns to root canals.

You Have Other Serious Health Issues

Bottom teeth pain isn’t always a sign that you have dental issues. Teeth pain can also be caused by a variety of other serious health issues that you might not even think of. These include heart attacks, sinus infections, cluster headaches, viral infections, diabetes, nerve-related disease, alcohol or drug abuse, and more.
The only way to truly find out what is causing your bottom teeth to hurt is to speak to your dentist. They’ll be able to get to the root of your teeth pain and provide you with solutions to make you pain-free again.

Food That's Good for Your Teeth on Chicago's Magnificent Mile

August 27th, 2015

Food That's Good for Your Teeth on Chicago's Magnificent MileThe 13-block stretch that you find our office on is called Chicago’s Magnificent Mile for a reason. It’s filled with the best in shopping, restaurants and entertainment (and dentists!) in Chicago. It truly is magnificent.
When you visit us at Water Tower Place, you’ll be in the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, with a bunch of food options around you if you’re feeling hungry. And we know the last thing you want to do before or after a dentist appointment is eat food that is bad for your teeth. We’ve rounded up a list of restaurants with the tastiest food options that are good for your teeth on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. This way, you can grab a delicious meal while taking care of your teeth when you’re visiting us, or anytime you’re in the area. Your mouth is in for a treat!
Restaurants featured:

  1. Freshii (American)
  2. Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch (Sports Bar, American)
  3. The Signature Room (Fine Dining, American)
  4. Foodlife (American, Pizza, Mexican)
  5. Foodease (Specialty food)


Water Tower Place, 835 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
If you’re looking for something fast and nutritious while you’re on the Magnificent Mile, look no further than Freshii. Freshii offers fresh, custom-made green wraps, salads, quinoa bowls, and pressed-juices.
Best Food Options for Your Teeth at Freshii:

  • Metaboost, Ninja and Market wraps and salads: Chewing on wraps or salads packed with high-fiber veggies actually scrubs your teeth, leaving them squeaky clean.
  • Low Fat Froyo: Frozen yogurt contains calcium and casein, a protein, which are essential keeping your tooth enamel strong.
  • Strawberry Banana Smoothie: Strawberries naturally remove discoloration and whiten your enamel.

Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch

Water Tower Place, 835 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch is a fun and lively sports bar with some delicious food and drinks. If you’re a big sports fan, you’ve got to eat dinner or lunch here because you’ll get free access to the Chicago Sports Museum.
Best Food Options for Your Teeth at Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch

  • Mixed Greens and Sante Fe Salads: The chewy greens keep your teeth clean, while the onions’ anti-bacterial sulfur compounds will help to kill the bacteria that breed on your teeth and gums.
  • Maple Mustard Glazed Salmon: The calcium and vitamin D in salmon will keep your teeth healthy and strong, and the baby spinach that comes with it will clean your teeth.
  • Pizza: Yes, pizza is good for your teeth. Dairy products, especially cheese, help your enamel stabilize and repair itself. Harry Caray’s offers 5 different types of pizzas to suite your tastes.

The Signature Room

875 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
For a real delicacy, take the elevator to the top of the John Hancock Center. There, you’ll find The Signature Room. This fine dining restaurant offers exquisite food and a breathtaking skyline view of the city.
Best Food Options for Your Teeth at The Signature Room

  • Dinner - Sautéed Scottish Salmon: With parmesan risotto, salmon roe butter and crispy salmon skin, your teeth and your taste buds will thank you for ordering this dish.
  • Dinner - Vegetable Rigate Pasta: Cheese and shiitake mushrooms are key to making this dish good for your teeth. Cheese strengthens your enamel, and the natural sugar lentinan in shiitake mushrooms fights off the bacteria biofilm, which causes gingivitis.
  • Lunch - Roasted Salmon Filet and Salmon Caesar Salad: By now, you should notice all of the salmon dishes we’re pointing out. The fish’s combination of vitamin D and calcium make it almost too good to be true.


Water Tower Place, 835 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Fresh, fast and made from scratch, you can find a wide variety of healthy and affordable food options at Foodlife.
Best Food Options for Your Teeth at Foodlife

  • Sunshine and Mango Tango Smoothies: The orange in these smoothies provide you with a ton of vitamin C, which strengthens blood vessels and connective tissues, keeping your teeth strongly connected to your jaw. Vitamin C is also anti-inflammatory, so it can reduce and slow down the progression of gingivitis.
  • Stir Fry with Veggies: Pack your bowl with crunchy, high-fiber veggies to give your teeth a good cleaning.
  • Four Cheese Ravioli: Get your calcium and casein fix with this delicious pasta dish.


Water Tower Place, 835 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
For the best in food quality, head on over to Foodease. You’ll find restaurant-quality food prepared to go, a grocery, hot entrees, bakery, salad bar, and more.
Best Food Options for Your Teeth at Foodease

  • Salad Bar: Add chewy green veggies, like kale and spinach, and mushrooms to your salad to make it extra good for your teeth.
  • Philadelphia Roll: Salmon is always your teeth’s friend.
  • Maple Glazed Salmon: Again, you can’t go wrong with salmon. It’s delicious and incredibly good for your teeth.

Wondering if a specific type of food is good or bad for your teeth? Need more food recommendations for Water Tower Place or The Magnificent Mile? Ask us any questions you have on our Facebook page! We would love to help you make your diet better for your pearly whites.

Gingivitis vs. Healthy Gums: What Each Look and Feel Like

July 9th, 2015

Gingivitis vs. Healthy Gums: What Each Look and Feel LikeWhen it comes to mouths, people typically care most about their teeth. But your gums are just as important as your pearly whites. Gums hold your teeth together, keep them protected from bacteria, can give you bad breath, and can even affect your overall health. So how do you know how healthy your gums are? Our dental experts are going to walk you through the differences between the look and feel of gums with gingivitis vs. healthy gums.

What is Gingivitis?

Many people have gingivitis without even knowing it. You might even have it as you’re reading this now. Since it’s a mild form of gum disease, it can be hard to detect. But it’s very common. Gingivitis occurs when the bacteria in plaque build up around your gums, causing a variety of reversible symptoms. Symptoms of this early stage of gum disease include gum swelling, receding, pain, irritation, bleeding and redness. If you don’t treat gingivitis, it can lead to more serious gum disease, or periodontitis, which is the primary cause of adult tooth loss.

What Do Healthy Gums Look and Feel Like?

As long as you take good care of your gums and teeth with daily flossing and brushing, your gums should be pretty healthy. Here are some of the features of healthy gums:

  • They look pink, although this may vary depending on your natural complexion. If gums are white, red, or unnaturally black, you may have gingivitis or gum disease.
  • They are firm and unable to be moved.
  • They are tight around your teeth teeth.
  • They haven’t receded.
  • They don’t bleed when you brush your teeth or eat hard foods.
  • They aren’t swollen or puffy.

What Does Gingivitis Look and Feel Like?

If you don’t brush your teeth or floss properly, you may develop gingivitis. Here are some common features of gingivitis to look out for on your gums:

  • They look and feel swollen.
  • They bleed easily when you brush your teeth, eat or get your teeth cleaned by the dentist.
  • They are occasionally painful, tender or irritating.
  • They feel soft to the touch.
  • Their color changes from pink to red.
  • You have bad breath.
  • Your gums are receding.

What Causes Gingivitis?

The most common cause of gingivitis and gum disease is plaque. Plaque is made up of bacteria that irritates your gums and eats away at your teeth enamel. It forms around your gums and teeth when the food you eat interacts with the normal bacteria in your mouth. That’s why it’s important to get food and plaque out of your mouth by thoroughly brushing and flossing.
The longer plaque is left in your mouth, the more likely it is to harden and turn into tartar. Tartar is much more difficult to get rid of than plaque, typically requiring a dentist to remove. It’s basically like a shield for bacteria to eat away at your gums and teeth. If left untreated, this eventually leads to your gums becoming very irritated and unhealthy as you begin to develop gum disease.
As long as you only have gingivitis, you can always get rid of it with proper oral hygiene techniques and a visit to the dentist. Don’t let gingivitis cause irreversible damage by developing into more serious gum disease. If you think you might have gingivitis, book an appointment with us at Water Tower Dental Care. Our number one Chicago practice can let you know the status of your gums and put you on the right path to a healthier smile.

5 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Teeth and Mouth

June 18th, 2015

5 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Teeth and MouthWhen you’re sipping on a glass of red wine while relaxing in front of the TV after work, you’re probably not thinking about the way the alcohol is affecting your mouth. If you drink too much alcohol on a regular basis, you may be severely damaging your mouth.
Let’s take a look at six of the most common ways alcohol affects your teeth and mouth so you can make sure you aren’t causing any permanent damage with your drink of choice.

  1. Tooth Decay

You may want to lay off of the margaritas, piña coladas and sweet cocktails after reading this. Many delicious alcoholic drinks are packed with sugar. And we’re not the only ones enjoying it. Bacteria love sugar just as much as we do, feeding off of it and producing acid as they munch. Combine these acid-releasing bacteria with acidic alcoholic beverages and your teeth are on a path to decaying.
Solution: While you’re out for the evening, try to avoid sugary cocktails. Choose beer, wine or a coconut water and vodka cocktail instead. If you can’t end the night without your favorite sweet cocktail, use a straw so that the sugars skip past the majority of your teeth. Finally, always make sure to brush your teeth at least 30 minutes after you’ve consumed alcohol. Any sooner and you may further erode your enamel by brushing it.

  1. Oral Cancer

Alcohol isn’t all fun and games. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF), alcohol abuse is the second largest risk factor for developing oral cancer. Alcohol can cause your gums, cheeks and skin to corrode, leading to mouth and throat cancer. When combined with smoking, a heavy drinker has an especially high risk of developing the disease. The OCF notes that alcohol dehydrates the cell walls, which allows tobacco carcinogens to spread throughout your mouth more easily. Heavy drinking can also lead to nutritional deficiencies that lower your body’s ability to fight off cancer.
Solution: As long as you aren’t a heavy drinker, you shouldn’t run into this problem. Try to keep your drinking to moderate levels, which is defined as one drink a day if you’re a woman, and two drinks a day if you’re a man, according to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

  1. Enamel Erosion

Every time you drink alcohol, you’re usually exposing your teeth to highly acidic liquid. This causes enamel, the protective calcium coating on your skin, to erode. When your enamel wears away enough, you’ll notice your teeth are more sensitive and you’re more susceptible to cavities. Worst of all, enamel can’t naturally grow back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
Solution: Try to avoid carbonated alcoholic drinks, as they are usually more acidic. Drinking water in between alcohol will also help to wash away the acids in your mouth.

  1. Dry Mouth

Instead of keeping your mouth wet, alcohol actually dries it out. You know how you have to take all those extra trips to the bathroom while you’re drinking? It’s because alcohol is a diuretic. In other words, it dehydrates you by making you urinate more than usual. Less liquid in your body means less saliva in your mouth. Since saliva fights off bacteria, your risk of gum disease and tooth decay increases while you’re drinking. You’ll also probably have pretty bad breath.
Solution: Try to drink at least one glass of water in between your alcoholic drinks. Mints and sugar-free gum can also help to increase your saliva production.

  1. Gum Disease

A couple of the ways that alcohol can increase your risk of developing gum disease have already been mentioned: bacteria feeding off of sugary drinks, nutritional deficiencies and lack of saliva. Additionally, alcohol has been found to irritate gum tissue and alcohol abusers tend to have poor dental hygiene habits, according to the Drug & Alcohol Rehab Asia. All of this leads to a much higher risk of developing gum disease conditions, which can range from swollen gums to dangerous infections.
Solution: Avoid heavy drinking. If you do drink, make sure to brush practice good oral hygiene at least 30 minutes after drinking by brushing your teeth at least twice a day and correctly flossing.

Smoking and Dental Implants: The Negative Effects

May 7th, 2015

Smoking and Dental Implants: The Negative Effects When your teeth fail you, the last thing you want is your dental implant failing you as well because of smoking. Dental implants work as a lifelike substitute for missing teeth. They are the only restorative dental solution that stops jawbone loss and gives you the full set of teeth you need to retain good oral health.
Fortunately, many smokers have successful dental implant treatments. However, smoking has been found to significantly increase the chance of dental implant failure. Let’s take a closer look at how smoking affects dental implants so that you can have a successful experience with this tooth replacement procedure.

Implants May Not Properly Bond With Jawbone

Right off the bat, smoking regularly before you receive implants may make it harder for the implant to fully fuse with your jawbone. Cigarette, pipe and cigar smoking has been found to cause jawbone loss, severe periodontal (gum and bone) disease and delayed wound healing, according to the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario. The tobacco you consume while smoking limits blood flow to your gums, reducing the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy, recover and fight off bacterial infection.
If your jawbone, gum tissue, and muscle surrounding the implant aren’t healthy and cannot properly heal after you’ve received the implant, your implant may not be able to fuse with your jaw bone. The soft tissues of your gums typically take a few weeks to heal around the implant, and the jaw takes months to osseointegrate with the implant.
Studies have found that patients who smoked during the implant placement surgery had a higher rate of early implant failure than nonsmokers. This makes sense, as smoking negatively affects the health of your jaw and gums. It’s best to avoid smoking during the early stages of your implant surgery to allow the implant to fully osseointegrate correctly. Otherwise, your implant may need to be taken out soon after your surgery.

Increases Chances of Infection

Like all surgeries, there is a risk of infection with dental implants. But the risk is very low for patients with great oral health and a strong immune system. Smokers, on the other hand, are more likely to develop an infection after they receive implants because it’s harder for their gums and jaw to fully recover. If patients smoke soon after their surgery, their wounds are also exposed to chemicals, making infection more likely. While antibiotics can be used to treat infection, smoking can reduce the effectiveness of these drugs.

Greater Risk of Developing Peri-Implantitis

Smoking doesn’t just affect the success of your dental implants in the early stages of healing. Peri-implantitis can occur years after your dental implant surgery and often causes implant failure. Peri-implantitis is an infectious disease that results in inflammation around gums and bone surrounding a dental implant. If left untreated, it can lead to progressive bone loss around the implant and eventual implant failure. Fortunately, peri-implantitis is rare. But smoking has been found to increase your risk of developing the disease. Smokers are also especially susceptible to bone loss.

How to Increase Your Chances of Dental Implant Success As a Smoker

Don’t worry, smokers. It’s not all bad news. While smoking does increase the chance that your dental implant won’t last long, many patients who smoke have successful treatments with implants that last their entire lives. It’s also important to note that ex-smokers who have not smoked in years increase their success rate. The best thing you can do for yourself and your dental implant is to stop smoking. Countless studies have noted that patients should stop smoking to decrease their risk of implant failure. You can find a variety of resources designed to help you quit smoking here.
Interested in getting dental implants in Chicago? Receiving dental implants from Chicago’s top cosmetic dentistry, Water Tower Dental Care, is a smart investment in your smile’s longevity. If you’re a smoker or ex-smoker, we can gauge the health of your mouth before you receive implants and talk to you about possible treatment plans. Request an appointment with us today!

How Bad Oral Hygiene Can Affect the Rest of Your Body

March 19th, 2015

How Bad Oral Hygiene Can Affect the Rest of the BodyBelieve it or not, neglecting your teeth and gums can affect the rest of your body, including your heart, blood, and respiratory system. The mouth is the gateway to the body, and as bacteria builds inside the mouth, it can drastically hurt the rest of your body.
The usual culprit for increasing your risk of other diseases is periodontal (or gum) disease. This is when enough food and sugars collect between your teeth and gums to allow bacteria to thrive. The more the bacteria thrives, the more inflamed your gums become. The inflammation of gums can restrict blood flow and cause further complications in the body.

Here are several ways that bad oral hygiene may affect your body.

Increased Risk of Stroke

Studies have shown people with periodontal disease are more likely to develop heart disease. This is due to bacteria and plaque from the gums entering the bloodstream, which contains a clot-promoting protein. As well, inflammation in the mouth causes inflammation in other blood vessels, adding to the risk.

Increased Risk of Diabetes

The relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease seem to be a two way street. Many people with diabetes will have a harder time fighting gum disease because they are more susceptible to infection.
However, inflammation can also weaken the body’s ability to control its blood sugar. This, in turn, gives you a higher risk of diabetes. The good news is that you can work the relationship to your favor: by controlling one of the issues, you can help bring the other under control.

Increased Risk of Dementia

There may be a relationship between gum disease and tooth loss, and your risk of dementia and early stage Alzheimer’s disease. The relationship is due to the infections in the gums that release inflammatory substances that can affect the inflammation of the brain, causing neuronal (brain cell) death.

Increased Risk of Cancer

A study recently showed that men with gum disease had increased chances of developing kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, and blood cancer. Some increased by 50% or more. As well, bad oral hygiene is directly attributed to oral cancers.

Other Potential Risks

Linking periodontal disease with other issues is a relatively new practice. Doctors are making strides in finding more connections that can help people understand the importance of good oral hygiene. Other potential risks being considered include:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lung Conditions including pneumonia and pulmonary disease
  • Obesity

Of course, all of these diseases can be caused by a lot more than just bad oral hygiene. But if keeping your teeth clean, flossing, brushing, and visiting a dentist on a regular basis can help decrease your risk of having these diseases, it seems like a no-brainer that you should take care of your teeth.
If you have any more questions about how to help prevent periodontal disease and keep your teeth under proper care, contact Water Tower Dental today, Chicago’s #1 rated dentist office.

6 Surprising Causes of Bad Breath

February 26th, 2015

Surprising Causes of Bad BreathBad breath doesn’t just ruin dates. It can also be a problem that embarrasses you every time you open your mouth to talk to someone. Worst of all, a surprising number of people suffer from bad breath, even if they practice proper oral hygiene.
We all know that onions and garlic cause your mouth to smell. But if you avoid these foods and have tried everything to make your mouth smell more pleasant, you may be surprised by what’s really causing your bad breath. Check out 6 surprising causes of bad breath below to see if you can discover the culprit causing your oral problem.

Your Habit of Not Eating Breakfast

When it comes to your breath, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Eating in the morning banishes morning breath by promoting salivation and getting rid of some of the bacteria that causes the stink in your mouth. Try munching on citrus fruits or nuts for the best results. And avoid onions, of course.

Your Sick Nose

Just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Sinus problems, like allergies and even a normal cold, can cause bad breath. The mucus in your nose drips down to the back of your throat, which doesn’t make your mouth smell too great. Not only that, but when you have a stuffy nose, it’s likely that you’ll breath through your mouth instead. When this happens, you’re drying your mouth of the saliva that helps to wash away nasty-smelling bacteria.

Your Snoring Problem

Learning that you snore is bad news in itself. Unfortunately, we’ve got even more bad news about your sleeping problem: snoring might be the reason you wake up with horrible breath every morning. When you snore in the middle of the night, it’s likely you’re breathing with your mouth open. Just like with a stuffy nose or sleep apnea, this causes your saliva to dry out and gives you bad breath.

Sticky Food and Candy

When you eat sticky food or candy, you’re not the only one enjoying it. Bacteria love munching on the tasty foods your saliva can’t wash away. Food like peanut butter, gummy bears and laffy taffy can stick around in your teeth for hours, causing bacteria to grow and multiply in hard-to-reach places in your mouth. Try to avoid these kinds of food if you suffer from bad breath regularly.

Your Meds

Though your medications may be helping you with other issues, they might not be helping your mouth smell any better. A dry mouth is a side-effect of many common meds, including antidepressants, antibiotics, and painkillers, like aspirin. When your mouth is dry, your saliva is no longer getting rid of odorous bacteria.

Your Mouthwash

This one is probably the most surprising. Instead of making your mouth smell better, your mouthwash may be the cause of your bad breath. Mouthwash that contains a lot of alcohol can cause your mouth to dry out, promoting the buildup of bacteria. As long as you buy mouthwash that is alcohol-free, you should be fine.
We hope this information helps you to find the culprit of your bad breath. If you still can’t figure out what’s causing your nasty mouth odor, feel free to visit us at Water Tower Dental Care. The problem may be a dental issue. If that’s the case, we can definitely help you out.

Foods to Avoid if You Have Sensitive Teeth

February 12th, 2015

Foods to Avoid if You Have Sensitive TeethSensitive teeth can be caused by a number of issues including an exposed nerve, a fractured or worn tooth, and receding gums. While visiting a dentist is the best way to prevent most of these issues, you can avoid the pain that is associated with sensitive teeth by limiting certain foods and drinks. Here are the most common types of food that can agitate your teeth and cause a lot of pain.

Foods To Avoid If You Have Sensitive Teeth:

Hot and Cold Food

Many of the foods that can cause pain to sensitive teeth are not caused by the specific food but by the temperature of the food. Extremely cold or hot foods can cause pain on the fractured tooth or teeth. Ice cream and cold drinks can cause pain, but the worst is chewing ice. Hot coffee and tea along with hot soup are warmer foods and drinks that can cause sensitive teeth to be aggravated. The best solution is to avoid these types of food and opt for meals with less extreme temperatures.

Acidic Food

Acidic foods such as citrus fruits, like lemons and oranges, along with vinegar-based foods, like pickles and olives, can often cause sensitive teeth and can make the pain that comes along with sensitive teeth worse. Acidic foods wear away at the enamel of the tooth which can make the problem worse.

Sugary Candies

Most kinds of candy will cause discomfort for sensitive teeth. Hard candies such as suckers and peppermints, which people tend to bite down on, can create further damage to your teeth along with causing strong pains. Furthermore, chewy candies such as gummy bears and licorice can get stuck inside open cavities and under gums, which will cause discomfort.
While certain foods can cause pain to your teeth, there are other foods that can help relieve discomfort.

Food That is Good for Sensitive Teeth:

Dairy Food

Milks, cheeses, yogurt, and other dairy products contain a protective protein layer known as casein. This protein acts as a shield from acidic elements that tend to hurt the teeth. As well, casein is able to keep minerals essential to healthy teeth from leaving the tooth.

Oxalate-Rich Food

Oxalic acid is in many nutrient-rich foods, such as spinach, carrots, and radishes. It is what causes the fuzzy feeling on your teeth when eating. This feeling is oxalate crystals precipitating on your teeth, which helps plug up dentinal tubules. This is the area where pain starts. Try eating foods rich in oxalic acid to help stop pain and reverse the causes of the sensitive teeth.
Of course, the best way to prevent sensitive teeth is by proper oral hygiene practices and visiting your dentist at least twice a year. Properly flossing once a day and brushing your teeth at least twice a day are great ways to help prevent your teeth from becoming too sensitive.
If you are experiencing a noticeable amount of discomfort in your mouth when chewing any of the types of food above, it is recommended you visit your dentist to determine the cause of the aching before it becomes a bigger problem than necessary. If you have more questions about teeth sensitivity, contact Water Tower Dental today, we’re happy to help!

What Causes Receding Gums?

February 5th, 2015

What Causes Receding GumsReceding gums happen when the gum tissue that surrounds the lower ends of the teeth begin to wear away and pull back, thus exposing the tooth and possibly its root. Gaps between the teeth, also known as pockets, form, allowing bacteria to nestle inside the available space causing more harm, including inflammation, gum disease, and tooth loss. To help prevent your gums from receding, it helps to know what causes receding gums, and ultimately, how to prevent it.
There are a number of reasons for receding gums, some which are not in your control, and some which are. Here are the main causes of receding gums:

Periodontal or Gum Disease

While receding gums can often perpetuate and/or cause gum disease, it can also cause your gums to recede. Gum disease is a bacterial infection that destroys gum tissue, which first includes the areas around the teeth.

Brushing Too Hard

While you may think you’re doing a good job brushing, you may actually be causing more damage than good if you brush too aggressively. This can wear down the enamel of your teeth and push your gums down, causing them to recede.


Unfortunately, some people are more susceptible to receding gums and gum disease than others. If your family members have had problems with their gums, you may want to pay more attention to yours.


Another uncontrollable factor, certain periods in a woman’s lifetime can cause hormonal changes that cause your gums to become more sensitive and more prone to gum disease and receding gums. This includes puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.


Tobacco products tend to leave more plaque on your teeth, allowing more bacteria to build up and cause your gums to recede.

Lack of Dental Care

Along with brushing and flossing daily, visits to your dentist for cleanings and inspection will help keep your gums from receding. Ignoring both daily brushing and flossing as well as dental visits, will allow plaque and tartar to build up and your gums to recede.

Grinding Your Teeth

When you grind your teeth, you are often putting too much force on them, which can result in gums receding.
These are the main causes of receding gums, all, except for two, you are able to prevent. The good news is, that with proper care, you can improve the effects of receding gums and gum disease. If it’s a more serious case of gum disease, a visit to your dentist for a deep cleaning, and potentially a prescription for antibiotics to kill the bacteria, will be in order. In the worst cases, soft tissue grafts and pocket depth reduction procedures can help stop your gums from receding and build a better smile.
The best way to prevent receding gums is by daily brushing and flossing along with the use of a low-alcohol mouthwash. Dental check ups with an experienced dentist every six months are also a necessity. As well, avoid tobacco products and eat foods high in nutritional content such as fruits and vegetables.
While it may not be a concern now, receding gums and gum disease can lead to many more complications you will be happier without. Taking preventative measures and understanding the causes are the best way to keep that bright smile.

Think Teeth Are Bones? Think Again!

January 29th, 2015

Are Teeth Bones?Many people mistakenly think that their teeth are made up of the same materials as their bones. Well, think again! Teeth are actually very different than bones, made up of several layers of tissue and minerals that help protect the teeth and keep them lasting a long time without the worry of serious wear. So while your teeth may look like funny-shaped bones, they are quite different.

While maybe similar to a bone in the way they look and feel, teeth differ in many ways. First and foremost, the anatomy of the bone compared to teeth is very different. The tooth consists of a center, or the pulp, which includes connective tissues, blood vessels, and nerves. This is the area that will cause a toothache if exposed or if a cavity reaches down to it. Bones, on the other hand, have a center filled with marrow that produces white blood cells, cells that your teeth do not do produce. The blood flowing through bones is made possible by arteries that pass through the bone and to the marrow.
The next layer of the tooth is known as dentin. This is the substance that makes up the majority of the tooth, and protects your teeth from the wear and tear of daily use, including eating, drinking, and harsh temperature changes. Dentin is calcified tissue, and is what helps make your teeth the hardest part of the human body. The only thing harder than dentin is the outer layer of your tooth, which protects the dentin. It’s the shiny white enamel that makes your teeth look so clean and bright. Enamel coats the tooth above the gum, while below your gums, cementum coats the roots and keeps your teeth in place.
Your bones’ outer layers are made of periosteum, which is a dense membrane that coats the outer surface of most bones. Periosteum also contains osteoblasts, which are cells that manufacture new bone growth and repair broken bones. This is something your teeth cannot do, and is a big reason why it’s important to take such good care of your teeth.
Another major difference between bone and teeth is the bone’s flexibility. Most of the bone’s makeup is of the protein collagen. This is a living, growing tissue that allows a bone to withstand pressure, while the calcium that makes up the rest of the bone allows the body to withstand its own weight. Teeth don’t have this kind of flexibility.
While teeth and bones are very different, they do have one obvious similarity: only you are responsible for their well-being. Taking care of both means eating right and taking preventive measures to make sure your body is out of harm. For teeth, this includes brushing and flossing everyday along with regular visits to the dentist for cleanings.
If you have any more questions on the makeup of your teeth or are interested in seeing one of Chicago’s top rated dentists, do not hesitate to call Water Tower Dental at (312) 787-2131.

What Are Wisdom Teeth and Why Are They Removed?

December 11th, 2014

Impacted Wisdom Teeth - Wisdom Teeth RemovalSurprise: your wisdom teeth are no wiser than your other teeth. They’re named that because the wisdom teeth are your last to emerge, usually when you’re more mature and a little wiser. The wisdom teeth are the third molars in the back of your mouth that develop in the later years of your maturing body. While some people are able to keep their wisdom teeth, the majority of people need to have them removed. There are many reasons why a person may need their wisdom teeth removed.

Reasons Why Your Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed

The first reason why you may need your wisdom teeth removed is that they can grow improperly, either never emerging from the gums or moving at such an angle that they affect other teeth. Because wisdom teeth are the last of the teeth to emerge, they often displace other teeth that are in their correct position. Many times, the wisdom teeth don’t start to grow until after a person has worn braces. If they grow irregularly, they can push against your back molars and cause a chain reaction that dis-aligns all of your teeth. Some wisdom teeth can grow at such an angle they never emerge from the gums, yet still push on your teeth to affect your mouth structure.
Other times, a wisdom tooth might grow straight, but only partially emerge from the gums, making it hard to fully clean the tooth while creating a passageway for bacteria to enter into the gums. This will create larger issues such as periodontal disease or oral infections.
When either of these situations happen, it’s a wise choice to have your wisdom teeth removed. It’s recommended to remove wisdom teeth before they are fully grown. This makes the removal easier, as roots are not yet fully formed, which keeps them from becoming too hinged to the jaw. When wisdom teeth are rooted, they are often positioned very close to the nerve endings of your jaw. Removal of your wisdom teeth at such juncture can cause a higher amount of pain, heavy bleeding, and minor loss of movement in the jaw. These problems can last days to months.
Removing wisdom teeth before they’re fully grown often means removing them before a clear problem arises. Often the patient is younger, which helps the mouth heal faster with less bleeding and pain.
Sometimes, however, the problem is avoided or not addressed until much larger issues occur. If you haven’t removed your wisdom teeth and are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s recommended you have your wisdom teeth checked and potentially removed.

Signs That You May Need Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

  • Pain in the Back of Mouth
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Extensive Tooth Decay
  • Cysts
  • Infection of Gums In the Back Teeth

While some don’t ever find cause to remove their wisdom teeth, the majority of healthy adults will need to have theirs’ removed. If your wisdom teeth are beginning to emerge or have appeared and are causing you issues, we recommend contacting your dentist to help take you through the proper steps of wisdom teeth removal.

5 Reasons Why Your Dentist Loves That You Drink Tea

December 4th, 2014

Girl with Great Teeth & Dental Health Drinking TeaYou may have heard of the many health benefits of tea, but did you know tea is really good for your teeth as well? Both black and green tea contain catechins, also known as antioxidants, which help remove harmful bacteria from your mouth.
However, tea does so much more than that. Next to water, it’s the most helpful liquid you can drink. Here are five ways tea is helping your oral health.

Tea Helps Your Gums

Tea is known to have anti-inflammatory elements that help control swelling, bleeding, and infection in your gums. By replacing bad bacteria with good bacteria in your mouth and helping prevent your gums from becoming inflamed, tea is a great way to help fight against periodontal disease.

It Helps Prevent Cavities

Along with clearing out bacteria, tea also helps lower the acidic levels of saliva and plaque in your mouth. Acidic elements are what eat away at the teeth to create cavities. When tea washes away this acidity, it’s harder for cavities to start.

It Keeps Your Teeth In Your Mouth

That’s right, not only can it keep your gums and teeth healthy, it can also help keep your teeth from falling out when you’re older. Studies have shown that men and women who drink one or more cups of tea a day hold onto their natural teeth for longer.

Tea Improves Your Breath

Bad breath derives from bacteria that grow in the far back of your throat, a place that’s hard to reach with a toothbrush. Without proper care, the bacteria breed enough to cause a foul smell. Tea helps by washing away and killing the bacteria, making it easy for your breath to smell fresh all day.

It Helps Prevent Oral Cancer

Antioxidants help every part of the body fight cellular damage and tumor growth. When you drink tea, you’re filling your mouth with antioxidants that are able to help keep your mouth from developing cancerous tumors.
To better help your teeth and mouth, you should know the best way to drink your tea. First, green and black tea are both good for you, but green is definitely better. Black tea is slightly more processed, which results in less antioxidants. And if you like white teeth, black tea is better avoided as it can stain those pearly whites.
To make tea correctly, boil water and pour the hot water over the tealeaves in a ceramic cup. Then, cover the cup with a saucer for 2 to 3 minutes as the tea steeps. This will help get the most out of every bag of tea.
Avoid adding sugar to your tea as bacteria loves to feed off of sugar. Also avoid bottled iced tea as it tends to have citric elements that can help raise the acidic levels of saliva.
If you have any more questions about how tea can help your teeth or if you would like to visit Chicago’s number one rated dentistry, contact Water Tower Dental today. We’re happy to help answer any questions and put you on the path to a better, brighter smile.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

November 27th, 2014

Sensitive Teeth Popsicle Do you ever cringe at the sound of someone chewing ice? Does the thought of biting down on cold ice cream might make you feel faint? This may be because you have extremely sensitive teeth. You might find it painful to chew or drink anything cold. Even hot foods can make you shiver.
Sensitive teeth can be caused by a variety of issues, including problems with your teeth and your gums. Here are six reasons why you might have sensitive teeth, and the solutions to help save your teeth.

Brushing Too Hard

Believe it or not, you can actually hurt your teeth if you brush too hard. Often, the brusher will use a toothbrush with bristles that are too tough for their teeth. This results in the brush wearing down the enamel that protects the teeth and causes the gums to recede, exposing the dental nerves. When the nerves are exposed to hot or cold foods, it can send pain throughout your mouth.
The solution is to replace your toothbrush with one that comes with softer bristles. You can easily find these at any pharmacy or drugstore. Using toothpaste made for sensitive teeth can help rebuild enamel and strengthen the gums.

Grinding Your Teeth

Teeth grinding can quickly damage teeth, and unfortunately, most don’t know it when they’re doing it. Teeth grinding typically happens in a person’s sleep, and wears down the enamel of the teeth. A person will wake up with a sore mouth and a burning headache. They’ll find it hard to chew most foods, hot and cold, and the jaw will be extremely sore.
The first step to saving your teeth from grinding is realizing you’re doing it. Most people are informed by their partner, who can hear them grinding their teeth while they’re sleeping. The next step is to consult a dentist, who can help you with practices that will slow down or prevent the grinding, such as placing a warm towel on the jaw before bed or wearing a protective mouth guard.

Too Much Mouthwash

Another reason you may develop sensitive teeth is because you’re using too much mouthwash. Mouthwash that includes alcohol can be especially harmful, as it can begin to wear away at the gums and enamel. Of course, using mouthwash once or twice a day won’t do too much damage. Those who like to use it every hour on the dot may be harming their mouth, though.
If you’re obsessed with mouthwash and don’t want to quit the habit, consider using alcohol-free mouthwash. There are several varieties and they won’t damage your teeth the way mouthwash with alcohol does.

Too Much Plaque

Plaque is the build up on your teeth that develops when bacteria thrives. Plaque wears away enamel and causes cavities (among many other issues). Plaque develops from lack of oral hygiene.
Brushing and flossing are key to ridding yourself of plaque. You should also visit the dentist at least twice a year for a deep cleaning that will remove the hidden plaque that brushing and flossing can’t get to.

A Cracked Tooth

Often, by no fault of your own, you can crack a tooth. Either by biting down on something too hard or from a simple accident, like falling down or getting hit with a baseball. However a tooth gets cracked, it can cause a lot of pain in your mouth. If you’re unaware of the crack, it can feel very similar to having sensitive teeth.
The only way to solve this problem is by making an appointment with your dentist to have the tooth repaired. A cap on the tooth or an extraction are the most likely solutions.

Gum Disease

Receding gums from periodontal disease can cause a lot of mouth issues, including extra sensitive teeth. Gums recede when plaque and bacteria destroy the gum, causing it to expose pockets between the teeth that cause an exposed nerve.
The best way to prevent gum disease is by brushing two to three times a day, and flossing and using mouthwash once a day. Eating healthy, drinking lots of water, and regularly seeing a dentist will also help to prevent your gums from receding.
As always, the best solution for a great smile is practicing daily oral hygiene and visiting your dentist twice a year. If you have any more questions about sensitive teeth, do not hesitate to contact Water Tower Dental, Chicago’s #1 Dental Practice.

How to Get Rid of Onion and Garlic Breath

November 13th, 2014

Garlic and Onion Bad BreathIf you have trouble with bad breath, you might find that onions and garlic are two of your worst enemies. While other smelly foods can usually be defeated with a mint or a quick swish of mouthwash, onions and garlic always seem to be a lot harder to combat. That’s due to the chemical makeup of onions, garlic, and any plant in the allium plant family (shallots, scallions, leeks, etc).

Garlic, onions, and the rest of the allium plant family affect your breath in two ways. The first is how most other foods give you bad breath, which is by the sulfuric compounds that actually get stuck in your mouth. They get stuck either between your teeth, in the pockets of your gums, or on your tongue. As the food is broken down and rots in your mouth, it begins to smell worse, thus giving you bad breath.
The second way allium plants affect your breath is slightly more complicated. When you eat garlic and other allium plants, you digest certain chemical compounds. The one that affects your breath is known as allyl methyl sulfide. This chemical comes out as a gas and is absorbed into the bloodstream. By traveling through the blood it is able to enter the lungs where it is exhaled. Unfortunately for us, allyl methyl sulfide gives off quite a harsh smell. This is why garlic, onions, and all of the allium plants give you bad breath that’s almost impossible to combat.

Getting Rid of Garlic and Onion Breath

There’s good news and bad news when combating garlic and onion breath. First, the bad news: The only way to completely eliminate garlic and onion breath is by not eating garlic and onions. That’s because there really is no way to remove the smell of garlic or onions from your bloodstream. The good news, however, is that, although you can’t completely eliminate the smell of garlic or onions, you can get rid of a good deal of the smell as well as take preventative measures to ensure your bad breath doesn’t get out of control.

Brush, Floss and Use Mouthwash

Of course, first and foremost, the best way to rid your mouth of garlic and onion breath is with proper hygiene practices. Flossing, brushing, and mouthwash will all help remove food particles in your mouth while killing bad bacteria and leaving your mouth looking and feeling fresh.

Parsley Can Help With Bad Breath

Ever see that little sprig of green on your plate at a restaurant? That’s parsley and it’s there to help your mouth. Chewing that bit of green can help neutralize the odors of garlic and onions. Even better, parsley in the meal can help keep the bad breath from developing in the first place.

Eat Lemons to Neutralize the Garlic and Onion Odor

Lemons help by neutralizing garlic and onion odor while also killing the bad bacteria associated with bad breath. Try sucking on a lemon wedge after a meal that’s loaded with either of the two smelly plants. Your breath will feel fresher almost instantly.

Drink Green Tea

If you’re concerned about bad garlic or onion breath, drinking green tea can really help. The polyphenols in tea are able to combat and reduce the amount of sulfur compounds produced by them.

Drink Milk While You're Eating the Smelly Food

And lastly, for those who are most concerned about their breath, studies have shown that milk can actually help reduce the odor of garlic or onions. Though for best possible results, one should drink milk with every bite of they take.
While fighting bad breath from allium plants might be a hard task, there are plenty of ways you can help prevent bad breath from occurring. Whether by brushing and flossing, or trying out some home remedies, you can help reduce the smell of garlic and onions on your breath.
For more information about the best and worst foods for your breath, click here. We here at Water Tower Dental Care are always happy to help you with any oral health questions you may have. Feel free to contact Water Tower Dental today.

How a Dentist Can Help With Chronic Pain Disorders

October 30th, 2014

How a Dentist Can Help With Chronic Pain DisordersChronic pain involving the mouth, gums, teeth, or jaw can be a horribly uncomfortable experience that any person would want relief from as soon as possible. Often, a dentist can help you with chronic pain relief. To do so, the dentist must determine what kind of pain you are in, and if possible, what is causing the pain.
There are many oral issues that are associated with chronic pain, including TMJ, burning mouth syndrome, and bruxism, or teeth grinding. First, you must understand how these issues occur before you can understand how they are treated.

Temporomandibular Joint

Otherwise known as TMJ, Temporomandibular Joint connects the lower jaw to the side of the head, a bone known as the temporal bone. This is a very complicated bone structure, as the joint is flexible, allowing you to move your jaw up and down as well as left to right.
One can experience several kinds of TMJ disorders than can cause serious pain. Myofascial pain involves discomfort in the muscle and jaw. Internal derangement is pain caused by the joint being displaced, dislocated, or injured. Arthritis can also occur, which leaves the area of the joint tender and worn.
It is difficult to diagnose and treat TMJ disorders because there are very little tests available to discover exactly what problem exists in the joint area. However, by talking to a dentist about your symptoms, they can help pinpoint if there is a problem with your TMJ. A dentist that knows your medical history will be especially helpful.
Treatments for TMJ disorders can range from conservative to extreme. For low pain, dentists recommend self-care practices such as eating soft foods, applying ice packs to the painful area, and learning techniques for relaxing and stretching the jaw.
Dentists may also recommend certain pain medications, including over the counter meds, that can help relieve some jaw discomfort.
For the most extreme cases, stabilization splints can be applied that will help re-align your jaw to serve your TMJ better. As well, there are surgical techniques that can invade the tissue around the jaw and help re-align your TMJ. However, surgical techniques are still somewhat controversial and should be avoided if possible.
 Learn how TMJ Therapy can help you here.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Otherwise known as BMS, Burning Mouth Syndrome is a chronic pain condition where a person experiences burning sensations on the tongue, lips, roof of mouth, gums and cheeks. There is no one physical abnormality that causes the issue that makes BMS a complicated condition.
BMS can last for several months to years. Typically, the pain starts mildly in the morning and becomes worse throughout the day. The syndrome can also bring symptoms of dry lips, a sore mouth, and a metallic taste on the tongue.
Though there is not one specific cause of BMS, most dentists agree that the following symptoms are often associated with BMS:

  • Nutritional deficiencies (especially iron, folate, and vitamin B)
  • Dry mouth
  • Oral candidiasis (this is a fungal infection of the mouth)
  • Diabetes
  • Menopause
  • Anxiety and Depression

To treat BMS, pain relievers are often used to alleviate the symptoms. However,   antidepressants can also be used to help reduce pain. Tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and muoclsal protectors have all shown signs of improving BMS symptoms.
Again self-care practices can also help fight against BMS, including:

  • Avoiding mouthwash with alcohol in it
  • Chewing sugarless gum
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Avoiding spicy and acidic foods

Generally referred to as teeth grinding, Bruxism is a condition where a person grinds their teeth, usually unconsciously. While most people, at some point, grind their teeth, it is when it becomes a chronic issue that it’s a bigger concern.
Teeth grinding often occurs during your sleep, so most people are unaware of the issue. They’ll often wake up with sore jaws and a splitting headache, completely unaware teeth grinding has caused it. Often, it is a loved one that hears the grinding, which is an awful sound, and informs them of the issue.
Not only can teeth grinding cause serious pain that can last throughout the day, it also badly damages your teeth, wearing away at the enamel that protects your teeth from cavities.
The best treatment for teeth grinding is by preventing the problem with a mouth guard. However, you can also practice self-care by avoiding caffeine and alcohol, training yourself to unclench your teeth during the day, and relaxing your jaw muscle at night by holding a warm washcloth to your jaw just below your earlobes.
If you believe you are experiencing any of the chronic pain problems above, or have another issue that is causing you discomfort, do not hesitate to contact Water Tower Dental. We’d be happy to help you lose the discomfort and move forward with a bright smile.

Gum Discoloration: What Causes Gums to Turn Black or White?

October 23rd, 2014

Gum Discoloration: What Causes Gums to Turn Black or White?When you think of a great set of teeth and gums, you probably imagine pearly white teeth and healthy pink gums. So if you happen to notice that your gums have turned black, grey, or white, you may be quite concerned. While some gum discoloration is a natural occurrence, other discoloration can be hazardous to your health and require serious attention. Here are the main causes of and reasons for gum discoloration.

Naturally Darker Gums

A natural reason that a person may have darker gums that are black or dark brown is skin pigment balance. Just as skin color can vary, so can gum color. For some people, often of non-Caucasian descent, gums can have spotted darkness or may not be pink at all. This is due to the increase of melanin production in the body and is as normal as the skin of one person being darker than the skin of another’s.

Cigarettes and Medication

Some people may have discolored gums from smoking cigarettes or taking certain medications such as minocycline, tricyclic antidepressants, or metal-based crown fillings. If you notice gum discoloration after you start taking a new medication, consult your doctor for possible alternatives.

Disease & Conditions

[caption id="attachment_1740" align="alignright" width="200"]Naturally darker pigment gum tissue Naturally darker pigment gum tissue[/caption]
There are also other reasons for gum discoloration that cause a higher concern. First is acute necrotizing periodontal disease, also referred to as black gum disease. This black discoloration of the gums is due to dead tissue, or necrosis. This is a serious health issue, with symptoms that can also include bleeding gums, strong pain, and a foul smelling mouth. Along with improper oral care, the causes of this disease can include stress, smoking, viral infections, and HIV. If left untreated, the disease can spread to your cartilage and then bone, causing very serious health concerns. You can treat acute necrotizing periodontal disease with antibiotics or by surgically removing the dead tissue. Click here to see how we treat severe gum disease, or periodontitis, at Water Tower Dental Care in Chicago.
Another condition that can make your gums appear gray in color is acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis. This condition creates a gray film that builds up on top of the gums. This is caused by poor dental hygiene, but is rarely seen today. The disease was often referred to as “trench mouth,” because World War I soldiers would often contract the disease after not taking care of their mouth for weeks at a time.

Conditions That Cause White Gums

White gums can be caused by several things. The first being what is called thrush, a fungal infection of the mouth. To treat this, you can contact your dentist, who will scrape off the fungus from areas of the gums and give you proper instructions on how to keep the fungus from returning.
Another cause of white gums is a condition known as leukoplakia, a precancerous condition that often occurs due to tobacco or alcohol. This condition also calls for a dentist to be consulted to take steps to prevent any further damage.

How to Battle Gum Discoloration

Of course, the best way to battle gum discoloration is by practicing proper oral care and brushing and flossing everyday along with visiting a dentist once every six months. If you have any more questions about gum discoloration, do not hesitate to contact Water Tower Dental, Chicago's #1 rated dentistry, or request an appointment by clicking on the green button at the top of the page. We can help you identify what is causing your gum discoloration to put your mind at ease. We're also experts at treating gum disease with both surgical and non-surgical techniques.

Five Foods for Healthier Gums

September 4th, 2014

Five Foods for Healthier GumsTo keep your gums as healthy as possible, you should brush and floss daily. Did you know that there are certain foods that can help to keep your gums in top shape? Here are our picks of food to eat to help keep your gums extra healthy.
Raw Onions
While they may leave your breath in a state of emergency, believe it or not, raw onions are great for your gums. This is because they contain antimicrobial sulfur compounds that help eliminate several kinds of bacteria that are known to cause cavities and gum disease. Add raw onions to a sandwich or salad to help keep your gums healthy. If you can’t handle them raw (or have a hot date you need to prepare for), you can always cook them. Though they may not be as tough as the raw ones, they’re still better than no onion at all.

Citrus Fruits
A great source of Vitamin C, citrus fruits will help keep your gums healthy and prevent bleeding. If you notice your gums are inflamed or start to bleed when flossing, try to consume more citrus fruits such as oranges, pineapples and grapefruit.
Green Tea
You should try to have a cup of green tea once a day if you can. Make it a regular part of your diet. Green tea contains complex compounds known as “catechins” that are able to fight free radicals and bacteria that often cause inflammation in the gums. Green tea can help lower your chance of periodontal disease and can reduce the risk of tooth loss later in life.
Milk or Low Fat Dairy
Calcium is one of the most important minerals to help build strong teeth and gums. While many people relate calcium to strong teeth, many don’t realize that it actually helps your gums just as much. In fact, consuming the proper daily amount of calcium can greatly lower your risk of gum disease. Don’t think milk is your only option though. Low-fat yogurt and cheese are great sources of calcium as well. If you’re eating a lot of citrus fruits, a good cheese is a great way to balance out the acidity that can often have a negative effect on your teeth.
Shiitake Mushrooms
Eating shiitake mushrooms is a great way to help prevent gingivitis. This delicious fungi contains a natural sugar known as lentinan. Lentinan does an amazing job of killing the bacterial biofilm, which is known to cause gingivitis. Even more impressive, lentinan kills bad bacteria while leaving the non-harmful bacteria in your mouth alone.
Foods to avoid: Refined Sugar and Flour
And, just for extra protection, here’s a food source that you should try to avoid. That’s right, the ingredients that you find in bread, pastries, and donuts are a killer to your gums. This is because they hurt your body’s natural defenses against bacteria while helping the bad bacteria flourish. Do your best to avoid foods that have too many refined sugars (candy, soda, etc.) along with flour (pastries, donuts, cake).
With an artillery of healthy foods and the knowledge of what to avoid, you can have healthy gums for years to come. If you have any more questions about keeping your gums and teeth healthy, contact Water Tower Dental. Our team of experts will help you on the path to a bright smile.

Early Warning Signs That Your Child May Need Braces

August 28th, 2014

Early Warning Signs That Your Child May Need BracesAt an early age, parents will be able to detect signs that can help them determine if their children need braces. The ideal age for fitting braces is between 9 and 14. During this time, children have lost most or all of their baby teeth, but their permanent teeth are still growing. A parent should be able to tell from a much earlier age if they can expect their children to need braces. This is helpful for parents to plan and save in advance.

Compiled by the American Association of Orthodontists, here is a helpful list of warning signs that may indicate your child will need braces in the future.

  1. Early or Late Loss of Baby Teeth

Typically, a child should start losing their baby teeth around the age of 6. The last of a child’s baby teeth will fall out around the age of 12. If you notice your child’s teeth falling out when they are much younger than six or much older, you may want to consult a dentist. 

  1. Mouth Breathing

Often this is a sign of crowded space in the mouth, which can affect the nasal passage. This is often fixed by a palate extension.

  1. Teeth Meet In Abnormal Way

One of the major reasons people get braces is that their teeth do not align properly. If you notice early on that your child’s teeth are crowding or aligned incorrectly, prepare yourself and your child for braces.

  1. Thumb Sucking

Though many children naturally suck their thumb because it soothes them, if it is done for too long it can harm their teeth. Thumb sucking can cause the upper front teeth to be pushed out, resulting in an open bite, or cause the lower jaw to develop abnormally. At an early age, thumb sucking may be nothing to worry about, but don’t let your child age too much with a thumb in their mouth.

  1. Protruding Jaw

Often you can tell if a child will need braces from the positioning of their jaw. If it shifts oddly, protrudes, recedes, or even makes sounds, you may be witnessing a larger issue.

  1. Crowded, Misplaced, or Blocked-Out Teeth

Any signs of teeth not aligning correctly, including blocked out, misplaced, or crowded teeth, is an almost definite sign that your child will need braces.

  1. Speech Difficulty

If your child seems to have trouble saying certain words, or has difficulty speaking in full sentences, it may be a result of their jaw and teeth. An unaligned teeth and jaw can make it difficult for a child to pronounce words fully.

  1. Biting the Inside of the Mouth

If you notice your child is often biting the cheeks or roof of their mouth, either by accident or on purpose, it may be because of a misalignment of their teeth and jaw. While you child may become used to the act, it should be addressed quickly before it causes serious gum issues.

  1. Protruding Teeth

If teeth stick out from the mouth, or are angled forward, they will need to be realigned and straightened with braces.

  1. Difficulty Chewing or Biting

If you child seems to have a hard time finishing a meal or noticeably chews in an awkward way, it could be because their jaws are not aligned properly, making it hard for their bottom and top teeth to bite down.

  1. Facial Imbalance or Asymmetry

Often you can notice the asymmetry of a jaw through the imbalance of a child’s face.

  1. Grinding or Clenching Teeth

Sometimes hard clenching or the sound of grinding occurs when the jaw is too closely structured in the mouth, causing crowding.
If you notice one or more of these signs in your children, it is important to bring them to a dentist as soon as possible to make sure that any issues can be fixed early on. Often, the longer a child waits to get braces, the longer it takes for the teeth to fully realign.
If you have questions about the early signs of a child needing braces, or believe your child may need braces, contact Water Tower Dental. We can help determine the best action for your child and put them on a course for a bright and straight smile.

Busting 6 Common Dental Myths

August 14th, 2014

Busting 6 Common Dental MythsDental myths and misconceptions are often a troublesome issue due to the worry and lack of care they can cause. Today, we’d like to bust a few of the common dental myths that we hear most often.

MYTH: You Should Brush Your Teeth Immediately After a Meal.

FACT: It’s better to wait thirty minutes after eating to brush your teeth. Many foods, including citrus fruits, candy, and starches, create acid that stick to your teeth and gums. This acid wears away the enamel on your teeth and helps feed bacteria to form plaque and tartar. While it may seem logical to brush immediately, in reality, your body has natural processes including salivation that help wash away these acids. Brushing your teeth immediately after eating can have negative effects. Using the toothbrush creates an abrasive surface and works the acids into your teeth more than you need. It’s better to wait for your saliva to do its job, drink lots of water, and brush your teeth thirty minutes to an hour after you eat.

 MYTH: Sugary Candy is the Worst Food for Your Teeth.

FACT: While candy might be a cavity causer, foods such as potato chips and crackers, which are still high in sugar but also stick to the teeth and gums, can be more harmful. Most candy simply dissolves, and your saliva is able to wash away the majority of the acidic sugars. With crackers and similar foods, the sugars can stick around in your teeth much longer.

MYTH: The More Sugar You Eat, The Worse Your Teeth Will Be.

FACT: Sugar is found in most food, including bread, fruit, candy, juices, and more. As a result, it is hard to specifically blame poor oral hygiene on eating sugar. We often learn that candy and sugar cause cavities. Yet, you can still have healthy teeth if you eat sugar as long as you practice proper oral hygiene.
Sugar helps cause cavities by giving other bacteria food to eat to produce more acid that then eat away at your teeth. So, if you wash out your mouth with water and brush often, the sugars you consume should not harm your teeth.

MYTH: Baby Teeth Don’t Matter.

FACT: Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth and should be treated as such. Sure, your child’s baby teeth will fall out eventually, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hold an important role in the future of your child’s oral hygiene. Baby teeth serve as placeholders as a child’s mouth develops, helping maintain the structure of the mouth and jaw, along with creating the proper space for their adult teeth when they grow in. Teaching your child oral hygiene at an early age also helps them to understand the importance of brushing twice a day to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

MYTH: You Should Avoid Brushing/Flossing if it Causes Your Gums to Bleed.

FACT: Bleeding gums is a sign of bad oral hygiene and a symptom of gum disease. If your gums begin to bleed during brushing or flossing your teeth, it means you need to be working harder at keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Often, bleeding gums is a sign that your gums are inflamed from an over-exposure to bacteria and plaque. Use a soft bristled toothbrush and perform gentle flossing daily and the bleeding will eventually stop.

MYTH: You’ll Know When You Have a Cavity.

This is a dangerous myth to believe because it can cause you a lot of pain in the future. Most cavities can not be felt right away. If you’re feeling pain in your mouth, it’s most likely that your cavity has reached a nerve ending in your mouth. This is a bad sign and requires the immediate attention of a dental professional. It’s best to visit your dentist every six months to catch cavities in their early stages to help prevent unnecessary pain and dental procedures.
There are plenty of dental myths to go around, and it is important to understand, that whatever the myth, often the most obvious solution is to continue to practice proper oral hygiene everyday, and do your best to keep your mouth free of bacteria and plaque. Visiting your dentist every six months for a cleaning will also help keep your teeth looking and feeling great. For more questions, contact Water Tower Dental. We’re happy to answer all of your questions and bust any other myths you might come across.

Signs and Symptoms of a Dental Cavity

July 31st, 2014

Signs and symptoms of a dental cavityCavities are a major concern of any mouth, but it can be hard to know if you have one or not without a trip to the dentist. Luckily there are plenty of signs and symptoms that can help indicate that you might have a cavity in your mouth.
A cavity is a hole on the exterior of your tooth due to the breakdown of your enamel (the outer covering of your tooth). Enamel breakdown is caused by a build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth. Once enamel is broken down, the tartar is able to slowly eat away at the tooth. Here are signs that you might be developing a cavity, or have one already.

Sensitive Teeth

The most obvious sign is highly sensitive teeth. If hot or cold temperatures irritate your teeth, this is a sign of enamel being worn down. Often, it may be a specific area of sensitivity that can indicate exactly where a cavity might be.

Food Stuck In Your Teeth

We all can get food stuck in our teeth. But, if you’re noticing a frequent occurrence of food sticking in your teeth, this can signify a bigger problem. Also, note how the food is sticking in your teeth. If you notice food often getting stuck at the top of your teeth, in areas that don’t normally get food stuck in them, there is a good chance a cavity is forming.

Opaque or Chalky Spots on the Teeth

When mineral loss occurs on the surface of your teeth, you will notice a change in color. This is one of the best ways to detect early signs of a cavity.

Difficulty Chewing with Certain Teeth

You may notice certain areas of your mouth where it is harder to chew, especially if the foods are high in sugar or are acidic. When tooth decay and cavities form, the innermost areas of the tooth, including blood vessels and nerves (this is known as the pulp) become exposed. These are highly sensitive areas that will cause pain if reached.

Bad Breath

If you practice daily oral hygiene, but notice your breath is still bad, you may have a cavity. Food and bacteria gathering in the crevices of decaying teeth and cavities can cause bad breath. If that is the case, your breath can continue to smell bad even after brushing and flossing.

New Gaps Between your Teeth

If cavities go untreated for a long time, you may start to notice gaps in your front teeth. This is because your tooth has left enough space in your mouth for your teeth to shift.

Swelling in the Gums

When a cavity reaches the pulp of the tooth, your gums will begin to swell and puss will form. This is the most serious sign that you are having an oral issue, and you should immediately seek dental assistance.
If you are experiencing any number of these symptoms, we recommend contacting Water Tower Dental to help assist you. We can fill your cavity, help remove tartar and plaque from your teeth, and help you get on the right track to have a bright and shining smile for years to come.

Periodontal Disease and Its Systemic Link

May 29th, 2014

periodontal disease systemic linkIf the thought alone of harmful bacteria colonizing inside your mouth and creating pockets in your gums that can lead to tooth decay, loose teeth, swelling, and bleeding doesn’t make you want to brush your teeth right away, this might. Research is showing periodontal disease, or gum disease, has a systemic link to several other diseases. Both the bacteria and the inflammation that is associated with periodontal disease are responsible for the links. So if bleeding gums doesn’t motivate you to practice proper oral care, helping managing a list of other disease might. Here are a few of those diseases:

Heart Disease

Research has shown that periodontal disease can increase your risk of heart disease. While the direct relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease has yet to be proven, many scientists believe that the inflammation that periodontal disease causes may hold responsibility for the association. As well, along with heart disease, periodontal disease can exacerbate other heart conditions. If you are being treated for periodontal disease, make sure to inform your dentist and physician to help determine if you condition requires specific attention.


Studies have shown that patients with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease. As a result, the disease can raise blood sugar and have an increased effect on diabetic complication. Patients with diabetes are more likely to contract infections including periodontal disease. Many doctors consider periodontal disease a complication of diabetes.
Patients unaware of their diabetes or those who do not have their condition under control are at an increased risk of developing periodontal disease. As well, not taking proper care of your gums can make it harder to control blood sugar levels. If you or someone you know has diabetes, it is extremely important to keep a stringent schedule to oral care.

Pregnancy/ Preterm Birth

Many studies have associated periodontal disease with preterm birth. One study showed women with periodontal disease, compared to those without, were more likely to deliver babies that were preterm or had a low birth weight. While more studies must be conducted to understand the relationship and determine the exact causes, we encourage all expecting mothers to be as healthy as they can be and to keep a strict eye on their gums, among other areas of the body.

Respiratory Infection

Last, research has shown that the bacteria found in the gums and mouth from periodontal disease can find its way into the lungs to assist in causing respiratory diseases.
While studies are still very new to finding the association between periodontal disease and other complications, the important message to understand is that proper oral hygiene including brushing, flossing, and mouthwash can only help you. Lack of proper care can result in periodontal disease, which in turn can create other complications throughout your body. If you believe you might be developing periodontal disease or are experiencing swollen/sore gums, contact Water Tower Dental today. We can help set you on the right track to better oral hygiene and all-around better health.

Probiotics and Your Mouth

May 22nd, 2014

probiotics and your mouthProbiotics have grown in popularity over the last few years. First, as a helpful ingredient for digestive health, now they are showing promising attributes to your oral health. From new mouthwashes and gums, probiotics are being focused and improved to help prevent cavities and bad breath, along with keeping gingivitis at bay.
Probiotics are natural bacteria that help defend the body against more harmful bacteria. It helps by balancing any bad bacteria with the good bacteria found in probiotics. This will help stop bacteria that can cause cavities of gingivitis from thriving. It holds them back, allowing your teeth and gum to stay healthy.

Probiotics neutralize bad bacteria and their toxic substances that cause decay or help aid periodontal disease. The probiotics are able to prevent bad bacteria by, in a way, taking up residence in the place that the bad bacteria would. If the bad bacteria cannot find a home for itself, it is flushed out the body. While bad bacteria can weaken your body, probiotics help aid in good health while in your body. Basically, probiotics should get two thumbs up from everybody. Of course, probiotics don’t last forever; they age, weaken, and eventually are replaced. Whether bad or good bacteria take their spot is up to you.
We’ve reported a few times on this blog on how yogurt is a great solution for helping fight bad breath. That is because it’s basically one big probiotic. However, while yogurt can help, it doesn’t have the ability to fight bad bacteria in your mouth like it does for your stomach. So instead, companies are now coming out with oral care probiotics that contain bacteria proven to help oral health and stave off bad bacteria.
Many probiotics for oral care come in supplements or mouthwash. One specifically is a solution that you gargle. It contains S. salivarius K12 and M18, which are able to create BLIS proteins that are available to help prevent many oral problems including bad breath, cavities, and plaque.
Bad breath is created entirely by bad bacteria harboring in the back of your throat. The S. salivarius K12 strain is a great probiotic that can help stop the growth of these bacteria and keep your mouth from drying out.
S. salivarius M18 is able to help in preventing the S. mutans bacteria that is the main culprit of plaque build up and cavities. The probiotic actually helps convert the bacteria into ammonia with can then also neutralize the lactic acid in your mouth, which further reduce the risk of cavities.
What’s most important to understand about probiotics is that it shouldn’t be seen as a last effort on bad oral care. By adding probiotics to your normal routine for hygiene, you’re helping prevent future problems from occurring. Just like daily brushing and flossing, a small amount of effort everyday can help keep major medical issues from occurring.
If you have any more questions about probiotics, or would like to talk to our staff about your oral care, don’t hesitate to contact Water Tower Dental; we’d be happy to assist you.

The Best and Worst Foods for Your Breath

April 17th, 2014

best worst foods for your breathWe all hate dealing with bad breath. Whether it’s our own or someone else’s, it’s never a fun experience. And even though you may brush, floss, and use mouthwash everyday, you still find that your breath can become rather nasty by the end of the day (or less fortunately, the middle). Great oral hygiene is a start to combating bad breath, however, sometimes our bad breath is directly related to the food we do (and don’t) eat. There are plenty of foods that cause bad breath, and some that help fight the awful smells. Here’s our list of the top foods for each.

The Worst Foods For Your Breath

No one should be surprised to learn that garlic is tough on breath. Though extremely healthy for you, it’ll leave you mouth steaming with funky smells. This is because, not only is it a hard smell to wash out of the mouth, garlic is absorbed into the bloodstream by a chemical known as allyl methyl sulfide. As it travels through your blood, it makes it to your lungs and pushes out of you like smoke out a chimney. Brush your teeth all you want, it can’t save you from the power of smelly garlic.
Similar to garlic, onions contain an amino acid known as allin. Once cut, the amino acid turns to propenyl sulfuric acid, the chemical responsible for making you tear up when cutting this veggie. And if you think it smells bad when cutting, just imagine how your friends feel when they have to hold a conversation with you. Eating raw onions can send your breath down a slippery slope from bad to so much worse, so we recommend cooking onions before eating, at least for the sake of your friends.
Can something that smells good give you bad breath? Coffee is your case and point. The acidity of coffee can linger inside your mouth for a long time, making saliva its sour friend. As well, the acidity from the coffee can neutralize the acid in your stomach allowing gastric juices to make an appearance out of the mouth. Not good for breath… Not good for anything.
The mother of all bad breath inducers, Indian curries are a mix of onion, garlic, fennel, and other spicy ingredients that will send anyone in a 3-foot radius of you running for the hills (if they don’t pass out first).

The Best Foods For Your Breath

Crunchy Fruit and Veggies
To combat all of these breath-killing foods, you need a defense strategy, and first in line are crunchy fruits and vegetables. Apples, carrots, celery and other fiber-rich fruits and veggies are your natural toothbrush. Their fibrous texture is able to push plaque and nasty food stuck in your teeth out of your mouth. As well, they increase saliva production, which helps rinse out the mouth.
Yogurt is truly an amazing food. It’s made of probiotics, bacteria that’s good for you. When consumed, it’s able to reduce the level of hydrogen sulfide in the mouth (that’s the stuff that makes your breath bad in the first place). Of course, make sure you’re choosing the right yogurt, the kind with active cultures. Avoid any yogurt that has too much sugar or is over-processed.
Vitamin C-heavy Fruits
Fruits high in vitamin C such as berries, oranges, and melons can help reduce the amount of bacteria growth in the mouth. High in vitamins and acidity, it’s able to keep bacteria at bay along with helping prevent periodontal disease.
Fresh Herbs
For those of you still wondering what that little green piece of grass on your dinner plate is, here’s your answer: parsley. A natural palate cleanser, parsley contains chlorophyll which helps reduce bad breath smells, as well as makes your mouth lose the taste of all the food you may have eaten. But don’t stop there; many herbs can help fight breath including coriander, spearmint, tarragon, and rosemary.
Of course, the simplest food of all is one of the best to help cure bad breath. Much of the time, bad breath is caused by food that’s just stuck in your teeth and gums. Water helps flush out the mouth and gets it to a point of freshness. It’s like putting your dishes in the dishwasher. They don’t just sit there with the hopes that all the food stuck on the plate goes away. They’re bombarded with water splashing against them so they can be clean and clear. The same goes for your teeth, the more water you drink, the fresher your mouth will be.
Though some foods cannot be avoided and will give you harsh breath from time to time. Most of the time, the best way to keep your breath fresh and healthy is by drinking lots of water, then brushing and flossing after every meal. Don’t wait too long afterwards because that’s prime time for bacteria to build up and make a home. If you want fresh breath proper oral hygiene will go a long way.

Candy That’s Good For Your Teeth

February 20th, 2014

candy thats good for your teethWe’ve all been taught since a very young age that candy is the ultimate destroyer against teeth. However, new candies developed by scientists are turning that old story around. Now, there are several new candies (along with some older) that have beneficial attributes.
Scientists in Berlin have recently created candy that contains good bacteria that fights against certain cavity-building bacteria. The main bacteria that cultivate in your mouth and eats away at the surface of your teeth, dissolving enamel and creating cavities, is a bacterium called Mutans streptococci. Scientists have found that a different bacterium called Lactobacillus paracasei is able to fight against and reduce the levels of the bad bacteria in the mouth. In a study testing different levels of the good bacteria in pieces of candy compared to a control group with normal candy, scientists were able to reduce the levels of Mutans streptococci by 75% in the groups with good bacteria candy compared to the control. You can find the full study published in the Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins.

Though that candy might significantly help your teeth, you probably won’t find it in the sweets aisle anytime soon. However, there are other candies, available today, that are definitely better for your teeth than others. If you are to eat candy, here’s the kind we recommend.

ADA-approved Gums

While most chewing gums can hurt your teeth by allowing harmful sugars and acids to build in your mouth while consistently chewing, there are actually a few good chewing gums. Recently the ADA has approved certain gums for their beneficial elements to teeth. Most importantly, all ADA approved chewing gums are sugarless and sweetened with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or sorbitol. These gums are able to increase the flow of saliva without creating a harmful environment for your teeth. In fact, the increased flow of saliva can help flush away previous acids and debris. Look for an ADA seal on the gum to be sure you’re chewing the right kind.

Sugar-free Lollipops

Similar to the ADA-approved chewing gum, sugar-free candies help increase the flow of saliva, which can actually flush out the mouth of bad bacteria and help prevent cavities. If you need a hard candy, we wouldn’t recommend anything other than sugar-free. However, be aware that these candies can still hurt your teeth if you bite down on them, so make sure to consume the candy slowly and save your teeth from unnecessary damage.

Dark Chocolate

Though dark chocolate is loaded with sugar, and not the best your teeth, enough studies have shown that the candy contains a rich amount of antioxidants that are good for the rest of your body, especially your heart. Sometimes it’s okay to sacrifice a minute of sugar in your mouth for the rest of your body. Just follow our advice as to how to consume sugar and you should be fine.
Of course, there are plenty of candies you can choose that are terrible for your teeth. Chewy candies and sour candies are definitely the worst as they can get caught in your teeth for days between the backs of molars. As well, they contain high levels of acid that can quickly break down tooth enamel and produce cavities. Avoid these candies at all costs.
Remember, the best defense to fight those bad bacteria and preventing cavities is practicing proper oral hygiene. Brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. You’ll find that a little piece of candy every so often won’t be the worst thing in the world. Just be careful, though Water Tower Dental loves to see all of our patients’ smiling faces as often as possible, but we hate when we have to inform them of cavities. Keep your teeth clean and your smile bright.

Five Foods to Cut From Your Diet to Save Your Teeth

January 23rd, 2014

foods to cut from your dietWe spend a considerable amount of time discussing the best and worst foods for your teeth. And while there are plenty of both foods to consume and not to consume, we’d like to share with you the foods we recommend you completely cut out of your diet. Sure, there are foods like apples that can be bad for your teeth (as well as good), they are ultimately good for your body. However, we believe the following foods have no substantial value to your health, so we feel no hesitancy suggesting you cut these foods from your diet completely, at least for the sake of your teeth.

1. Hard Candy, Caramel, and Long-Lasting Sweets

We’ve discussed the effects of sugar on your teeth before. While you may be able to beat the damaging causes of sugar, we recommend trying to cut out any of the tougher candies that can ruin your teeth. The fact is that you’re letting a high concentration of sugar rest in your mouth. This creates a feeding frenzy for any and all bacteria. Furthermore, because you allow the candy to stay in one place, in the mouth, for a long time, a large amount of acid can build up in those, which then causes demineralization. Along with the harms of sugar, hard candies are often chewed before finished. This can easily crack or fracture a tooth, which causes a whole other deal of trouble.

2. Canned Fruit

Fruits like peaches and pears are already packed with sugar. Unfortunately, food manufacturers can these fruits and pack them with a ton of extra sugar. When it comes to oranges and other canned citrus fruit, it’s even worse as the sugars combine with the citric acid to create a bulldozer of harmful substances to attack your teeth. We recommend eating fruit, but stick with the fresh stuff. If you must buy canned, look for fruit canned in its own juices, or buy frozen instead.

3. Soft Drinks / Soda

Sodas and Soft Drinks (even diet) are horrible for your teeth and should be avoided at all costs. Along with having no substantial value to your overall diet, sodas are filled with acidic sugars that are perfect for rotting teeth. Most sodas also contain phosphoric and citric acids that can also easily erode teeth. Take a moment to research soda and you’ll see that it’s not only a tasty drink, but can help remove rust off of nails and clean stains off of toilets. Is that something you really want in your body? Cutting soft drinks out of your diet is a great way to keep your teeth healthy and to avoid unwanted sugars.

4. Ice

Ice is a very helpful substance that cools our beverages, but when we choose to pop those ice cubes in our mouth and start chewing, then we’re risking some serious damage to our teeth. While, yes, ice is sugar free, it is just as harmful if you chew it. It’s one of the leading causes of cracked or damaged teeth. If you chew ice, we recommend finding something else to occupy your time, try gum with the ADA Seal which helps you understand which gum is good for your teeth.

5. Saltine Crackers and Potato Chips

All processed carbs such as Saltine crackers and potato chips are extremely harmful to the teeth without providing any real benefit to the body. The problem is, though crackers and chips start crunchy, they become gummy in the mouth once chewed. The carbs, which are just sugar, end up snuggling themselves high up into the gums where they can get caught in pockets between your teeth. Even brushing shortly after might not be able to remove all of the gummy carbs that have hid themselves inside your gums. We recommend avoiding these kind of snacks as much as possible.
Of course, we all have our guilty pleasures, and most of these foods fall into that category. If you do choose to eat these harmful foods, do your best to brush your teeth soon after to remove the sugars and harmful acids that can erode your teeth. If you have any more questions, contact Water Tower Dental, we’d be happy to help.

How Bad is Sugar for Your Teeth?

November 21st, 2013

how bad is sugar for teethWe’ve all been taught from a very young age about the dangers of sugar. We’re told to avoid candy, and to eat your vegetables. And while that is good advice, it misses the point. Sugar is one of the easiest fermentable substances available, and found in hundreds of foods, not just candy, so why the stigma? Well, it’s not so much the sugar that’s bad for your teeth; it’s the bacteria that love the sugar just as much as you.
Let’s face it, sugar makes many foods delicious, it’s the added ingredient that turns a subtle flavor into something much bigger. So, really, how bad can sugar be for your teeth?

It’s not so much that sugar is directly bad to your teeth, but rather, bacteria known as streptococcus that lives and breeds in your mouth. Streptococcus loves sugar just as much as your taste buds. The bacteria go through a feeding frenzy when sugar is present in the mouth. The longer the sugar is in your teeth, the more time the bacteria have to feed. As it feeds, it begins to excrete acids that are the true culprits of tooth decay. They eat away at your enamel and cause cavities and other such problems.
While everyone’s teeth are different, and some are more susceptible to tooth decay, it is often the job of your saliva to add a buffer between the sugars and the bacteria that eat it. However, with large intake of sugar, such as candy, soft drinks, and sweets, it’s better to take steps to prevent cavities and tooth decay.
The best steps to warding off the harmful effects of sugar are to rinse and brush your teeth after you eat a considerable amount. This method flushes away any excess sugars that saliva did not get, and helps kill bacteria that still remain in the mouth. Use floss once a day to remove bacteria from the crevices of the teeth and gums, as they are much harder places to reach with a toothbrush.
Other methods to help clear your mouth of harmful sugars are by using topical fluorides and mouthwashes. There are some gums that are fortified with xylitol, which contains antibacterial elements and helps keep harmful tooth-decaying bacteria at bay.
So, the question, how bad is sugar for your teeth is not determined by just the sugar- but by the eater. Sugar is bad for your teeth if you decide to allow it to be. Proper oral hygiene along with conscious healthy practices can keep tooth decay from sugar at bay.
How much sugar should you consume then? In terms of the healthiness of your teeth, sky’s the limit, as long as you clean after. Though we don’t recommend you start eating pounds of jellybeans every day. However if you felt you overate one day, you shouldn’t worry as long as you keep your teeth clean. Although, for a proper diet, you shouldn’t consume more than about 150 calories of sugar per day, or about nine teaspoons.
If you stay consistent with your sugar intake and keep your teeth clean, then the stigma of sugar should vanish faster than Houdini. Of course, it’s also wise to schedule regular check ups with your dentist for routine cleanings and inspection of your teeth and gums. Contact Water Tower Dental today if you’re looking for professional dentists that can help you get on the track to a brighter, healthier smile.

Common Causes for Chipped Teeth

September 26th, 2013

common causes chipped toothLast week we listed the solutions for fixing a chipped tooth. Today we'd like to get a little more in depth on some of the harmful foods and activities that can crack, chip, or fracture a tooth.
When the enamel of your tooth is worn down, or if your tooth is already fairly decayed, your teeth have much higher potential of chipping. To guarantee you are the least likely to chip a tooth, we recommend, first, to practice proper dental hygiene by brushing your teeth after meals, flossing once a day, and visiting the dentist for cleanings and check-ups on a regular basis.
However, even with proper care for your teeth, a chipped or cracked tooth is still possible. Here are some of the main causes for chipped teeth.

1. Dangerous Foods

While your teeth can often bite down on some tough meals, they're not an invincible force. Often, if you bite down too hard on the wrong food, you'll have to say goodbye to a piece of your tooth. Here are three of the biggest culprits:
Popcorn: Make sure to leave the last few kernels in that bowl of popcorn alone.
Hard Candies: We all find ourselves biting down on a hard candy much earlier than we hoped. Break the mistake by avoiding these dangerous treats.
Ice: Chewing on ice is bad news for teeth. Try switching to sugar-free gum, or better yet, carrots and celery.

2. Dangerous Habits

Nervous ticks and bad habits such as biting your nails or chewing on the back of your pencil can often harm the front of your teeth. Kick those nasty habits before its too late.

3. Grinding In Your Sleep

Many of our patients are doing everything to keep great oral hygiene yet see their tooth enamel wearing down. That is because, whether they know it or not, they are grinding their teeth in their sleep. Some do it when they have a lot of stress in their lives or during a scary dream; others do it for no reason at all. No matter why, it's a leading cause for tooth enamel wear down and potential cracked teeth.
If you suspect you grind your teeth at night, or a significant other has claimed you do, see a specialist that can fit you for a mouth guard that can help stop the problem before its too late.

4. Absent Mouth guard

Speaking of mouth guards, many sports players chip teeth when they don't wear their protective mouth gear. A mouth guard is a safe and easy way to keep your teeth intact. For any sport with physical contact, one should consider using a mouth guard.

5. Using Your Teeth Incorrectly

Ever try to open a bottle or a stubborn potato chip bag with your teeth? Unfortunately this is a very easy way to hurt yourself and crack a tooth. Using your teeth for unintended uses is highly discouraged. Rather, grab scissors, pliers, a knife, or the many other tools man has created to open those frustrating packages.

6. Crooked Teeth

Last, untreated, crooked teeth can cause harm to your teeth by kicking or damaging areas while chewing or other activities. We recommend braces or Invisalign to straighten teeth and ensure that a crooked tooth doesn't cause further damage to your teeth.
We can't encourage you enough to practice proper oral hygiene to save your teeth from becoming chipped, cracked, or fractured among other serious issues. While there's no one to completely guarantee the prevention of dental accidents, the healthier your teeth are, the stronger they are, and subsequently the better they are at fighting against damage.
If you recently chipped a tooth, refer to our post last week on how to repair everything from a small chip to a serious fracture. If you have any more questions, call Water Tower Dental, we're happy to help.

Are Apples Good or Bad For Your Teeth?

August 29th, 2013

apples bad for your teethThere are a lot of conflicting opinions if apples are good for your teeth or not. Seems odd that it’s even a question. How could the fruit recommended to keep the doctor away hurt you? A few years back, the Toronto Star published some negative effects of an apple on your teeth. However, we don't believe this settles the case on if an apple is bad for your teeth or not. We think it's a tricky grey area, an apple can actually help your teeth and keep them healthy- just as long as you eat it right. These are the true food villains that are bad for your teeth.

How Is An Apple Good For Your Teeth

An apple helps both your teeth and your all-around oral hygiene. Think of it as a natural toothbrush. The fruit, that's rich in fleshy fiber, helps scrub your teeth, gums, and tongue. The skin of the apple especially, which is extremely high in fiber, can scrub against your teeth and help remove stains and fight plaque.
Furthermore, Apples are great for getting rid of bad breath. That natural fiber helps remove the traces of plaque and residue that harbor in the back of your tongue and throat that create the bad breath. The acidity of the apple helps kill any bad bacteria that may cause the bad breath as well.

How Is An Apple Bad For Your Teeth

The Toronto Star claims from a study published by UK's Journal of Dentistry, that an apple's acidic structure can be harmful to your teeth. This is true; foods high in acidity can damage the dentine in your mouth. Dentine is the layer of tooth just under the enamel. The acidity of an apple can eat away at your dentine and damage your teeth.
As well, apples have high sugar content, and we all know how bad sugar can be for your teeth. Furthermore, apple juice, along with most fruit juices, is highly acidic as well and can be harmful to that dentine.

Don't Stop Eating Apples!

apples bad for teethHowever, though apples can hurt your teeth, their benefits greatly outweigh the risk. Not only can apples help our teeth, they can help regulate our blood sugar, are low in calories and are a great source of dietary fiber. The negative effects of apples are easily preventable and mostly depend on your apple eating habits. If you want the good benefits of apples without the negative impact, follow these steps:
1. Eat your apple in a single sitting. Don't graze an apple. The longer the acidic elements are in your mouth, the more harm they can do.
2. Eat apples with other snacks. Munching on a piece of cheese, milk, or some bread can help neutralize the apple's acidity. Especially if its a food high in calcium.
3. When finished with an apple, swish your mouth with water. This will help release and flush away the acidic elements that are hiding between your teeth.
4. Wait about 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after eating an apple. If you brush too soon after, the sugars from the apple will scrub off your enamel. Use water to flush as much out before brushing.
If you follow these steps, apples will never be harm to you. In most cases, no food will be of harm if you follow these steps. Proper oral hygiene by brushing and flossing everyday will especially help. And, of course, a visit to your dentist for a special cleaning every six months will keep you safe from serious oral issues. Call Water Tower Dental Care today to set up an appointment.

7 of the Worst Foods for Your Teeth

July 31st, 2013

We've been raised to believe that the only foods bad for your teeth are the ones that contain sugar: candy, chocolate, ice cream, etc. However, there are plenty of foods that you wouldn't expect to be bad for your teeth, many that we might snack on everyday. Take a look at our list of worst foods for your teeth too what you might be eating a little too much of.

Soda Bottle1. Soda

It's no surprise that soda is incredibly bad for your teeth. The high amounts of sugars in carbonated sodas are outstandingly high. Sugars are great food for bacteria. Unfortunately, sodas also contain a high amount of acids that can also wear away at tooth enamel. So, while you may think diet sodas are less harmful to your teeth, in reality they're just as bad. If you must drink soda, it's recommended to drink while eating a meal rather than sipping throughout the day. Food helps clear the sugars and acids out of the mouth.

Pickles2. Pickles

Here's one of those unexpected foods: Pickles are soaked in acidic vinegar; it's what gives a pickle its flavor. Unfortunately, vinegar is just as harmful to your tooth enamel as any other kind of acid. Eating pickles on a regular basis can greatly increase the risk of worn tooth enamel. It's best to keep pickles as an occasional snack rather than a daily treat.

3. Chewy Candy

chewy candy licorice
Another obvious food to avoid is chewy candies. These sticky gobs of sugar are a great meal for the bacteria in your mouth. That's because the sugars can easily stick between the teeth and gums. If you need something sweet, we suggest a piece of fruit.

4. Dried Fruitdried fruit

And by fruit, we mean FRESH fruit. Dried fruits are just as bad for your teeth as candy. Why? Because they're very sticky, just like chewy candy, and are high in sugar. So when those pieces of dried fruit get stuck between the teeth, it helps bacteria grow. Again, keep to fruit fresh.

5. Red Wine

While you may think red wine is bad for your teeth because it can stain them (they can, it's from a compound called tannins). Red wine also contains an erosive acid, which wears away at tooth enamel. If you need a drink, you may want to consider a glass of pinot grigio of noir.

saltine cracker6. Saltine Crackers

One of the worst foods you can eat might surprise you. Saltine crackers are filled with processed simple starches (a different kind of sugar), which provide a field day of food for the bacteria in your mouth. Ever notice how crackers will start to stick to your teeth if you eat too many? That's just another bad sign that these sugars won't be leaving your mouth any time soon. Replace those saltines with grain-based crackers. They will keep your teeth healthy and curb bacteria from growing.

sports drink7. Sports and Energy Drinks

Believe it or not, sports drinks can actually be worse for you then sodas. Though they may not have the carbonation that sodas have, sports drinks and energy drinks contain a high amount of acid, which will wear away at the enamel on your teeth. Be cautious of replacing soda for a sports drink. Instead opt for water or milk, both great for your teeth.
If you'd like to replace a few of these items on our list for some healthier options, check our blog post of some of the best foods for your teeth and make the old switcheroo.
If you have any more questions, don't be afraid to contact Water Tower Dental Care, we'd be happy to talk.

5 Foods That Are Good for Your Teeth

June 27th, 2013

Though there are plenty of foods that can harm your teeth such as candy, soda, and coffee, there are also many foods that are good for your teeth. If you want healthy teeth that fight bacteria, kill plaque, and build enamel, there are dozens of foods you can fit into your diet that will help. Today we'd like to tell you about five of the best foods (or food groups) for your teeth.

Foods That Are Good for Your Teeth


MilkTeeth need a great deal of calcium to stay strong, there's almost no better food to get it than through dairy products. Milk and cheese especially are great for your teeth and jawbone. Calcium prevents tooth decay by protecting your teeth from periodontal disease, a form of gum disease, as well as maintaining healthy bone structure of the teeth and jaw. About one-third of your body's bones and teeth are made of calcium, so it's important to have a great deal of it in your system. Yogurt, tofu, and soy milk are also good sources of calcium.


salmonAnother great food that’s rich in both calcium and Vitamin D is salmon. Without Vitamin D, your body cannot absorb and utilize the calcium that you've just consumed from your dairy products. Consuming food rich in Vitamin D is essential to healthy teeth. What better food to eat than salmon for your Vitamin D as it's also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which help cognitive function, eye, cardiovascular, skin, and hair health.


broccoliThough mostly all vegetables are great for your teeth, there are many benefits to crunchier vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumber. Crunchy vegetables contain many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are all good for your health. Specifically to teeth, they contain Vitamin C, which helps prevent plaque and bacteria. As well, crunchy vegetables contain phosphorus, which is another major player in absorbing calcium. Last, crunchy vegetables promote and stimulate your salivary production. This is the body's natural way of washing debris and food from your teeth and gums while providing disease-fighting enzymes throughout your mouth to prevent infection.


orangesWhile crunchy vegetables are a good source of Vitamin C, oranges and other citrus fruits are your ultimate source. Vitamin C is extremely important to the teeth because of its ability to strengthen blood vessels and connective tissues. This is vital to keeping your teeth connected to your jaw. As well, vitamin C is an anti-inflammatory, which can help reduce and/or slow the progression of gingivitis.


onionsLast, onions are a great source for anti-bacterial sulphur compounds, which play a major role in killing a lot of the bacteria that breed on your teeth and gums. If you don't mind just a little stinky breath for a minute, it's best to eat the onions raw. This will help you get the best from the vegetable to help prevent a fair amount of tooth decay.
There are dozens of other foods that are great for your teeth, gums, and jaw. Most importantly, without question, water is number 1. We didn't mention it in our list because it seems so obvious, but it really helps, especially avoiding sugary, acidic sodas and soft drinks that can cause detrimental damage to your teeth.
If you'd like to know more about healthy teeth care, make an appointment with Water Tower Dental Care, Chicago's #1 Dentists to discuss what steps to take to be on your way to a healthy lifestyle and a brighter smile.

Is Coffee Bad For Your Teeth?

May 21st, 2013

is coffee bad for your teethLike a majority of Americans waking up early and setting off to work every morning, we enjoy a good cup of coffee to help wake us up. That shot of caffeine helps us get moving at the beginning of our day and keeps us on our toes through the afternoon. With almost daily consumption of coffee though, many of our patients ask if it's bad for their teeth. This is a hard question to answer, mostly because we enjoy drinking coffee just as much as the next person, so telling our patients that it's bad for them would make us feel just as guilty for drinking it! However, joking aside, coffee isn't the best drink for your teeth, however it's not the worst. Let's explain.

What Coffee Does To Your Teeth

Hot liquids, no matter what kind, are likely to open the pores on your teeth. When this happens, your teeth are more susceptible to damage, especially when drinking something very acidic. And guess what, coffee's level of acidity is quite high. Acidic drinks are much better at breaking down tooth enamel than base drinks like water or milk. The more your hard outer coating of enamel thins, the more the underneath layer, dentin, with its yellowish hue will be revealed.
As well, when your mouth becomes more acidic, it can breed bacteria faster. If there's one thing bacteria loves, it's acidity. Worse, the more bacteria that re-produces, the more acidic waste it produces, which then breeds more bacteria. It's a domino effect that's worth preventing. Large amounts of bacteria in your mouth can cause a range of problems from bad breath to gum disease.
Not only does coffee breed bacteria, but it can also stain your teeth very easily. Have you ever spilled coffee on your shirt or your carpet? Those stains don't come out too easily, do they? Well, the same goes for your teeth. Coffee is one of the leading causes of stained teeth (tobacco being the leading cause). When you drink coffee, the caffeine interferes with the natural saliva production process, which means it's harder to wash out the coffee in your mouth, leading to some pretty nasty stains.

How To Prevent Coffee Teeth Stains

All of this information is probably not what you want to hear. Believe us, we don't like hearing it either. However, there are solutions to helping prevent any long-term damage when drinking coffee. Follow these tips:
1. Limit Your Time With Coffee
Although it may be fun to sip your coffee all day, the longer you drink it, the more time you're giving bacteria to grow. Drink your coffee in a reasonable amount of time. Your teeth will thank you.
2. Use a Straw
If you're drinking iced coffee, or just don't mind looking a little silly, use a straw. This will allow the drink to bypass your teeth. You can still taste the coffee-goodness but miss some of the acidic and teeth-staining attributes.
3. Brush Brush Brush
After you drink your coffee, it's a good idea to brush your teeth to remove any stains and bacteria. However, obviously we don't all bring a toothbrush to the cafe, so at the very least, rinse with water.
If you're worried that your coffee habit has already stained your teeth to an unmanageable level, there's still a solution. Water Tower Dental Care offers teeth whitening that is guaranteed to eliminate those yellow and brown stains. Extremely simple and fast, we offer Zoom! Whitening which can brighten your smile up to eight shades in about an hour. It's a very easy process, first the doctor applies a special pH-balanced hydrogen peroxide solution to the surface of your teeth. Next, a special low-heat light activates the solution and brightens the teeth. It's that simple.

zoom teeth whitening

For more questions about our dental work, visit our homepage and find the dental solutions for you. We'll be happy to help.