The Dentist Recommends

​The Stages of Tooth Decay

November 22nd, 2018

stages of tooth decayIt’s no big secret that brushing and flossing your teeth on a daily basis can help prevent all sorts of oral diseases such as gingivitis and tooth decay. Why then have tooth decay rates amongst adults risen over the past five years?

It’s hard to say.

Our diets tend to consist of large amounts of sugar – even in things you would typically think are healthy such as apple and orange juice. These sugars will cling to your teeth and provide a literal Vegas-style buffet table for bad bacteria that can lead to tooth decay or other oral diseases.

In addition to high-sugar diets, lack of dental maintenance also plays a significant role in the rise of tooth decay incidents in adults. Brushing and flossing alone are not enough to maintain a healthy mouth.

It’s highly recommended you visit a dentist at least once a year for a full dental cleaning that can clean hard-to-reach areas that regular brushing and flossing cannot.

We’re going to look at what tooth decay is, how a dentist will determine if you have it, and the five stages of tooth decay.

What is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is as it sounds. It’s the decay or rot of the various materials that make up your teeth. It’s caused by high levels of bacteria that feed off of the sugars, food scraps, and other organic material on your teeth and gums. If left unchecked and untreated, your teeth will start to rot, then fall out of your mouth.

Dentists have identified five different stages of tooth decay. The good news is that if the dentist catches your tooth decay at an early stage, it can be reversed entirely.

How Do Dentists Diagnose?

To diagnose tooth decay, your dentist will ask you a series of questions as they examine the inside of your mouth.

  • Are your teeth sensitive?
  • Do you have any tooth pain?
  • Can you eat or drink hot/cold foods without pain?

The dentist will be probing your teeth with dental instruments to check for soft areas that could indicate tooth decay. An X-ray or two might be taken to confirm their suspicions.

Once the dentist has evaluated the overall state of your oral health, they will then let you know if you have tooth decay as well as the extent of it.

The good news is that the early stages of tooth decay can be treated with a wide variety of treatments including enamel remineralization treatment.

Five Stages of Tooth Decay

There are five distinct stages of tooth decay. Each stage can be viewed as a sort of proverbial cliff. Once you fall off the edge, you’re in the next stage of decay. It’s a useful tool that dentists can use to create a triage for your teeth and help stop the rot from progressing any further.

1st Stage

In the first stage of tooth decay, teeth will show signs of a sustained attack by bacteria. Little white spots will appear just below the surface of the enamel. This is indicative of a process called “demineralization,” which is the loss of essential minerals that help make your teeth healthy and white.

The good news is that if the dentist catches tooth decay at this early stage, it’s completely reversible. Treatments can include fluoride treatments which can help prevent demineralization from occurring.

2nd Stage

In this stage, the tooth enamel will show clear and visible signs of decay. Your teeth are now under full attack from bacteria. Teeth will erode from the underside outward which means that you may not notice it until it’s too late (a dental checkup would easily catch it).

This means the outer enamel will look completely normal until the cavity has grown in size that it will break through the surface of the enamel. At this point, there is no turning back. A dental filling will need to be performed to prevent further decay.

3rd Stage

When most people come to the dentist with a toothache, they’re usually in or very close to the third stage of tooth decay. The cavity will begin to eat away at the 2nd protective layer of the tooth, the dentin.

At this point in time, the dentist will recommend an immediate filling to prevent the cavity from breaking the third and final defense of the teeth: the pulp.

4th Stage

The bacteria in your mouth think of the pulp inside your teeth as a delicious chocolate cake. They will stop at nothing to get to that sweet, juicy, and delicious tooth pulp. While the bacteria in your mouth are having a lovely banquet, the pain you’ll be feeling will be quite considerable.

At this particular point in time, a dental filling will no longer work, and it’s time for a root canal. This is the only way to save the tooth from having to be extracted.

5th Stage

At this point in time, the infection has reached the root of the tooth and exited the tip of the structure of the tooth. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the gums, jawbone, and even other teeth.

The patient will experience significant swelling and pain. A root canal might save the tooth, but most dentists will often recommend a complete extraction.

Conclusion

Tooth decay is a serious medical condition and can lead to other health complications such as infections and even bone loss. This is why it’s so important to not only brush and floss twice a day but to make it a point to see a dentist once a year for a dental checkup and perhaps a deep cleaning.

​Your Guide to Water Tower Place

November 15th, 2018

water tower place chicagoWater Tower Place is located smack dab in the middle of the Magnificent Mile, a 13-block stretch of businesses, entertainment, and cultural places of interest. It is the premier commercial district in downtown Chicago and home to many upscale luxury boutiques, fashion outlets, restaurants, and hotels.

Water Tower Dental care resides in the 72-story skyscraper that makes up Water Tower Place. Native Chicagoans know this is the place to be or go when you want to see and be seen. No matter your tastes or interests in life, there is a little something for everyone at Water Tower Place.

We’ve compiled a little guide to Water Tower Place, and we hope you will find it useful and helpful. Don’t forget; you can always schedule a teeth-cleaning appointment with Water Tower Dental Care in the morning and be shopping in the many stores by early afternoon.

History of Water Tower Place

Water Tower Place is named after – yup you guessed it --- an old water tower that was built in the heart of downtown Chicago in 1869. The primary purpose of the tower was to draw clean water in from Lake Michigan to serve the needs of both Chicago residents and the firefighting departments alike.

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 saw almost the entire downtown Chicago go up in flames. The water tower was one of a handful of buildings that survived the devastation. As the years turned into decades, the city of Chicago retrofitted and renovated the tower to upgrade it to modern construction standards as well as to clean over a century of dirt and grime off it.

Water Tower Place came into existence in the 1960’s, and the skyscraper where the offices of Water Tower Dental Care resides was built in 1975. Over the next 40 years, subsequent developers began building up Water Tower Place. Known for both its middle-class and luxury shops, it is a Chicago icon that has continued to evolve and grow over the decades.

Types of Shops

The shops at Water Tower Place are a destination for many Chicago residents and out-of-towners. The vast majority of the shops are contained within an 8-story mall. Over 100 retailers, restaurants, and entertainment venues are located within the building.

Hotels

If you’re visiting Chicago, there are many hotels scattered throughout the Miracle Mile area. They range from 4-star luxury hotels to your basic run-of-the-mill B&B. Without a doubt, the most prominent hotel in the area is the Ritz-Carlton. They opened a hotel in the tower in 1975, and it’s grown into a 435-room local landmark.

Renting a hotel room in the immediate area can be somewhat pricey. You can find deals by visiting one of the many travel and deal websites. Sometimes the hotel(s) have extra rooms in their inventory and will run promotions to fill them up. O’Hare Airport is just a 35-minute short drive away, making the hotels in the area very accessible to tourists.

Dining

If there’s one thing Chicago is famous for, it’s our love of food. In the mall, you’ll find your usual stores such as Starbucks and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels which can satisfy your food cravings until it’s time for dinner.

Harry Caray’s, M Burger, Mity Nice Bar & Grill, and Wildberry Pancakes make up the bulk of the sit-down food establishments inside the mall. If none of the above tickles your food craving, step outside, and you’ll find one of hundreds of local restaurants, pizza joints, and libation establishments.

Protip: If this is your first time in Chicago, make it a point to visit Pizzeria Due which is a Chicago icon. On their menu is a mouth-watering deep-dish pizza that will have you licking your fingers afterward and planning a 2nd trip back to Chicago to eat more deep-dish pizza. It’s located just seven short blocks from Water Tower Place.

Entertainment

A mall isn’t a mall without entertainment and Water Tower Place doesn’t disappoint. If you visit their website, you’ll find a list of events and upcoming attractions. At this time of year, all eyes are on Santa Claus himself, and he’s already confirmed his appearance at the mall (assuming his reindeer don’t break down on their way from the North Pole).

Take the little ones to sit on Santa’s lap while you enjoy a Pumpkin Spice Latte or other seasonal beverage from one of the many cafes and restaurants located in the mall.

The mall also has an app you can download which will keep you abreast of any upcoming events. They also offer free Wi-Fi while you shop (you’ll need to sign up for their emails first).

Water Tower Place

If you’re looking for a great way to kill a few hours, Water Tower Place is the place to be. Whether you’re flying solo, with your significant other, or heading up a caravan of children, grandparents, and out-of-state relatives, Water Tower Place has something for everyone.

If you find yourself in the area, be sure to stop by our offices, say “Hi!” and make an appointment for your teeth to be cleaned. The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and all those sweets, candies, and sugar-laden holiday foods can leave a nasty layer of plaque all over your teeth.

​5 Best Fall Festivals in the Chicagoland Area

September 13th, 2018

fall festivals chicagoland 2018As the warm summer days give way to crisp autumn nights, there’s no better time to round up the family or loved ones and head off to one of several famous Chicago fall festivals. Whether you’re with your family, significant other, or just flying solo, there are many great autumn festivals to choose from.

Here are our top five picks for best fall Chicago fall festival:

Apple Fest in Lincoln Square

Fall is the traditional harvest time for apples. Apple cider, applesauce, apple candy, and anything apple-related will be sold at the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Apple Fest. This family-friendly event features handcrafted wares, live music, and a zone for children’s activities. It takes place in early October and is a great time to stock up on apple products before the season is over.

When: October 6th and 7th from 9 am to 8 pm (Sat), and 9 am to 6 pm (Sun)

Where: Lincoln Avenue (In-between Lawrence and Eastwood), Lincoln Square

Cost: $5 donation (suggested)

Shades of Autumn Pumpkin Festival

This annual event is so big that it can’t be completed in one weekend, which is good because the festival last all fall time long. There are more than 25 family-friendly things to do such as a petting zoo, pumpkin picking, and traditional horse-drawn hayrides. There’s also a pumpkin cannon, apple cider donuts, hamster track, semi-truck slide, and an event called “trikes for tikes.”

There’s so much to do and see that you can make it a two-day or multi-weekend affair. The Shades of Autumn Pumpkin Festival celebrates everything pumpkin and is a great place to bring the little ones to pick out the perfect fall time gourd to take back home and carve into a scary face.

When: Starts Sept. 8th and runs through October 31st.

Where: Stade’s Farm & Market 3709 W Miller Rd., McHenry

Cost: $15 (all ages)

Harvest Pow Wow

The Harvest Pow Wow at Naper Settlement is a great way to introduce your kids to Native American culture. The event celebrates Native American heritage with traditional costumes, dancing, cultural demonstrations, children’s games, and arts and crafts. Learn how the Native Americans prepared for and survived the freezing Chicago winters.

The Pow Wow is located in Naperville, which is a 40-minute ride outside downtown Chicago. There will also be food booths selling traditional Native American food, a bird of prey exhibit, and Native American dancers decked out in full regalia. This annual cultural event is a must-do for kids of all ages.

When: September 22nd and 23rd 11 am to 5 pm.

Where: Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster Street, Naperville, IL 60540

Cost: $12 adults and $7 ages 3 to 12.

Donley’s Wild West Town Fall Festival

Experience out-west in the Midwest at this annual fall festival that celebrates both the seasonal change as well as everything Wild Wild West related. You and your little gunslingers can pan for (fake) gold, ride in a vintage canoe just like the pioneers of yesteryear and check out a Wild West show.

There’s also a spooky (but not super scary) tunnel train ride, kid’s activities, and even a pumpkin painting station. If you’re tired of traditional fall festivals, you shouldn’t miss this one as the Wild Wild West theme is family fun for all. You and your kids can even dress up and mix and mingle with the other cowboys and Indians.

When: Weekends (only) Starts Sept 22nd and runs through Oct. 28th from 10 am to 6 pm.

Where: 8512 S. Union Rd., Union

Cost: $17 and free for children under the age of 2.

Garfield Farm Harvest Days

We’ve saved the best for last as the Harvest Days at Garfield Farm is one event you shouldn’t miss. The Garfield Farm is the only intact Illinois prairie farmstead that’s in existence. It was built in the 1840’s and is considered to be a living history museum.

Come see how the earliest inhabitants of the Chicago area lived, worked, and played.

Learn how they celebrated the fall harvest with live demonstrations of farm and household skills, music from the period, and various treats. Attending this event will give your kids the opportunity to see how life was lived before the internet, Facebook, and video games.

When: October 7th 11:30 am to 4 pm

Where: Garfield Farm Illinois 38/Garfield Rd., LaFox

Cost: Adults $6; Age 12 and under $3

Fall Time in Chicago

There’s no excuse not to attend at least one of these festivals this fall season. The weather will be cool, but not cold, and a nice fall crisp will be in the air. Even though these events are family-friendly, anyone can attend and have a good time. If you’re looking for the perfect date night that won’t break the bank, look no further than one of these five fall time festivals. If you’re planning on attending, make plans soon as the fun fall times won’t last!

​My Adult Tooth Fell Out, Now What?

June 7th, 2018

losing adult toothThere are very few things in life more unsettling than losing an adult tooth. One minute you’re biting down on dinner, the next you feel a “cruuuunch” inside your mouth along with the accompanying sensation that you just bit down on something very hard.

Whether it’s from tooth decay, bad genetics, or a physical injury, losing an adult tooth can leave you in a subconscious state of mind as you desperately try to cover up the gap by not smiling. If you’re fortunate, the lost tooth will have come from the back of your mouth – where it’s harder to see when you smile.

No matter how you lost your tooth, there’s a good chance that it’s salvageable. Here are the first few steps you should take if you want to attempt to salvage it:

Tooth Recovery Steps

After the initial shock wears off, do your best to recover the missing tooth. Sometimes the tooth will have a flesh-like substance at the bottom – this is the root of the tooth and should be protected at all costs from dirt and damage.

Pick the tooth up by the crown (the hard white surface) and make sure you take care when handling it. Human teeth are relatively small, and it won’t take much to accidentally drop it again and lose it for good.

Clean the Tooth

Once you have your lost tooth in your possession, clean it as best you can. Don’t scrub it too hard and try to be as gentle as possible. A glass of milk or your saliva will help preserve it. If a cup isn’t nearby, you can always store the tooth inside your cheek pocket.

Put the Tooth Back in Your Mouth (If You Can)

Protecting the tooth root should be your utmost concern if you wish to salvage the tooth. The best way to preserve it is to put the tooth back into the empty socket. This is often easier said than done, and sometimes the tooth refuses to go back in the cavity.

If the tooth doesn't go back in easily, don’t force it. Put the tooth in a glass of milk or saline solution and make a beeline to Water Tower Dental Care for an emergency appointment. If it’s after-hours, try to keep the tooth in a cool, moist area until our offices are open during regular business hours.

After-Hours Tooth Loss

If you lose your tooth on a Saturday night and the dentist office doesn’t open until 8 am Monday morning, you’re going to need to become the guardian and protector of your missing tooth for the next day. Keep it in a warm bag of milk, saliva, or saline solution – don’t use water as it could make the re-insertion more challenging.

If you’re in an area where you don’t have access to milk or saline solution, then you can always store the tooth inside your cheek pocket as a last resort. The goal is to keep the tooth (and roots) moist, so they don’t dry out.

For dental emergencies, give our offices a call any time of the day, night, weekends, or holidays at (312) 787-2131. At Water Tower Dental Care, we’re committed to the safety and well-being of our patients. We realize dental emergencies can happen anytime or anywhere and we’re here for you when you need us most.

Tooth Replacement Options

Once you’re in the dental chair at Water Tower Dental Care, the dentist will give you one of several options to replace the lost tooth. It’s impossible to know what option will work best for you until the dentist has had the opportunity to examine the area in your mouth where the tooth fell out. Here are several tooth replacement options that are available:

Replant the Original Tooth – If you’re fortunate enough, the dentist will be able to pop the tooth right back into your mouth. Sometimes a splint will need to be made out of composite material or soft wire. It will need to remain in place for a few days until the root has taken hold.

Once your tooth is back in your mouth, and the dentist removes the splint, you should make a follow-up dental appointment in three to six months so that the dentist can check up on the healing progress.

Bridge – If the dentist was not able to save the tooth, or if the tooth was too cracked/chipped to be put back in your mouth, you can opt for a dental bridge. The dentist will make a bridge by using nearby teeth as support for a fake (but very real looking) tooth. Bridge technology has advanced over the years to the point where they look, feel, and work just like the real thing.

Dentures – While dentures are not an ideal permanent solution, they can be an option for people who are on a budget or are wanting to save up to get dental implants.

Dental Implants – If the original tooth can’t be saved, then the next best option is to get a dental implant. Out of all the tooth replacement systems, dental implants cost the most money, but they are meant to be permanent. If you take care of your dental implants, they can last you a lifetime.

It can take upwards of six to eight months to get a dental implant, and in some cases, the dentist might recommend a temporary denture while your body heals up from the multi-step process of getting dental implants.

Lost Teeth Solutions in Chicago

If you’ve lost an adult tooth, follow the above steps to preserve it and give our offices a call at (312) 787-2131 or schedule an appointment. At Water Tower Dental Care, we specialize in helping patients who have lost a tooth and can provide many options to help you regain your smile and confidence!

 

​What is Oral Lichen Planus?

April 12th, 2018

oral lichenOral lichen planus is a condition that negatively affects the mucous membrane in your mouth. It is chronic (meaning it comes and goes over time) and can appear as red swollen tissues, open sores, or white patches. In some cases, it could cause mild discomfort, itchiness, or a burning sensation.

It is caused when the immune system attacks the cells of the oral mucous membranes. The reasons this happens are still unknown to medical science. Fortunately, it cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

While Oral lichen planus is not a life-threatening disease in and of itself, people who have it must be closely monitored via regular dental checkups. They are in a high-risk group of developing mouth cancer and other serious medical conditions in the areas that are affected by oral lichen planus.

Symptoms

Those who suffer from oral lichen planus usually have some form of pain, itchiness, or discomfort in their mouths. Physical indicators can include:

  • Sores that are open
  • Tender, swollen, or red patches of tissue
  • White, raised, patches of tissue that sometimes appear lace-like

It can appear in several areas of the mouth. The lesions could appear in the:

  • Gums
  • Tongue
  • Inside of the cheeks (most common)

Diagnosis

The only way to tell if you have oral lichen planus for sure is to visit a dentist. They will request your medical history and ask you to list any medications you’re currently taking. A physical examination of your mouth will be performed, and the dentist might ask you if you’re experiencing lesions or open sores on other parts of your body.

If the dentist cannot make an accurate diagnosis, he will order a biopsy. A small piece of your tissue will be collected and then a laboratory will analyze the sample in order to help make a correct diagnosis.

Other Types

Some people who suffer from oral lichen planus have lesions and sores on other parts of their bodies such as:

Ears – If not treated ASAP, can lead to hearing loss.

Scalp – While somewhat rare, can lead to temporary or permanent hair loss.

Nails – Equally as rare as the scalp, but can result in nail ridges, splitting or thinning, and ultimately nail loss.

Esophagus – Another rare condition where it can cause the esophagus to narrow, which can make swallowing food or liquid very difficult.

Genital area – Pain, discomfort, and burning can occur when having intercourse. Lesions appear eroded and red – although sometimes can appear as white areas. They can occur on both male and female genitalia.

Skin – The lesions will appear as purplish bumps and can be very itchy.

Risk/Complications

If you suffer from a condition that compromises your immune system or you’re taking certain medications, your risk of developing oral lichen planus may be increased. However, at this point in time medical experts are still unsure of the exact cause.

If you think you might be suffering from oral lichen planus, it’s best to seek treatment immediately. Left to its own devices, this condition can increase the risk of:

  • Depression
  • Oral cancer
  • Scarring
  • Oral yeast/fungal infections
  • Increased pain
  • Stress/weight loss/anxiety

Discomfort/Pain

The white patches inside the mouth will most likely not cause any physical pain. It’s only when the red swollen patches (and open sores) occur does the pain start occurring. The actual amount of pain will differ from person to person and be contingent upon their overall tolerance to pain.

Pain can occur in one or more of the following areas:

  • Discomfort when chewing or speaking
  • Inflammation of gums (gingivitis)
  • Bleeding when brushing teeth
  • Sensitivity to spicy, hot, or acidic foods
  • Burning pain or sensation

Over-the-counter pain medicine could help alleviate some symptoms of the pain, but it’s best to make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible. Only then can you get a clear understanding of what’s going on and begin the treatment process.

Treatment

Currently it is not possible to completely cure oral lichen planus. Your dentist can only treat the symptoms and prolong symptom-free intervals. One of the first things your dentist will do is attempt to treat any part of your mouth that could exacerbate the condition. Broken/chipped teeth and restoration of bridges and other dental work should be performed. Any agitation to the mouth can cause the symptoms to return, so it’s best that all sharp edges on your teeth are properly taken care of.

Your dentist might prescribe medication based on his diagnosis. Drugs range from NSAIDs to antimalarials and could change based on the determination of your dentist as well as how well your body is responding to the drugs.

Oral Lichen Planus Experts on the Magnificent Mile

If you’re having oral discomfort or you think you might be suffering from oral lichen planus, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If you do have oral lichen, your chances of developing mouth cancer are very high. It’s important that a qualified dentist examine your mouth and prescribe a course of treatment.

At Water Tower Dental Care, we specialize in helping patients feel and look better again. Our compassionate dentists use state-of-the-art technology which assists in patient comfort and healing time. Give us a call today to learn more how we can help solve your dental problems!

​Benefits of an Electric Toothbrush vs. Traditional Toothbrush

November 22nd, 2017

electric vs traditional toothbrusRegularly brushing and flossing your teeth are essential for good dental health. Your teeth stay white, your breath smells great, and most importantly it helps prevent any major dental issues down the road.

When it comes to brushing your teeth, you have two options: regular or electric toothbrush. If you visit the website of any electric toothbrush manufacturer, they claim that the electric toothbrush is superior in many departments. Take what you read with a grain of salt because they’re obviously trying to sell their own product.

We’re going to look at the pros and cons of both electric and traditional toothbrushes and come to a conclusion as to which one is superior.

Regular Toothbrush

For thousands of years prior to the invention of the modern toothbrush in the 1930’s, people “brushed” their teeth using a rough cloth and water. Sometimes they’d rub salt and/or chalk across their teeth in order to get rid of the grime. Instead of toothpaste, they’d use the ashes of burned eggshells and ox hooves – which probably didn’t leave a very minty-fresh aftertaste in their mouths.

Since the 1930’s hundreds of millions of people have used the regular toothbrush to clean their teeth. Over time the standard toothbrush has gone from pig and horse hair to synthetic fibers that are designed to gently clean your teeth without damaging them.

Different Types & Sizes

Not all toothbrushes are created equal. There are two general kinds of manual toothbrushes that are designed to perform a specific function:

Conventional – A conventional toothbrush is either rectangular or heptagon (7 sided) in shape. It’s the most basic form of a toothbrush and is used by a large number of people.

Diamond shape – The tip of the head of this brush is much narrower than a conventional one. This allows for quick and easy access to the back teeth.

The average toothbrush comes in assorted sizes as well. There are sizes specifically designed for infants zero to two years old, children two to twelve years old, and a one-size-fits-all for anyone 12 years and older.

The bristle pattern can also differ. Toothbrushes come in:

  • Block - bristles arranged like a square block
  • Wavy or V-shape – bristles arranged in a v-shape patter
  • Multilevel trim – bristles are arranged in a trimmed multilevel pattern
  • Criss-cross – bristles are arranged in a criss-cross pattern
  • Polishing-cup – there is a polishing cup made of bristles in the center.

The manufacturers of all of these types of toothbrushes claim they are superior for plaque removal, allowing easier access to difficult-to-clean areas and even the ability to clean surface stains (such as coffee or tobacco) effectively.

Pros of a Manual Toothbrush

With all the various shapes, sizes, and designs of a toothbrush, what are the pros of using a manual toothbrush?

  • With a proper brushing technique, you can thoroughly clean your teeth. A good brushing takes around 2 minutes with a good toothbrush.
  • You have multiple styles, colors, bristles, and heads to choose from.
  • Easy to travel with. Doesn’t take up much room in your suitcase or day bag.
  • No bulky charging device or having to replace batteries.
  • Inexpensive

Cons of a Manual Toothbrush

  • It’s going to require more work to perform the same effective cleaning as an electric toothbrush would. All fine and dandy, but think about the last time you were completely tired when you brushed your teeth. Do you think you did a thorough job in your sleepy state of mind?
  • Timing Guesswork. Unless you set a timer, which most people don’t, you’re going to have to guess when the suggested 2-minute mark is up. If you’re not brushing your teeth for 2 solid minutes, then you’re not cleaning them as best they should be.
  • Over brushing. You can easily apply too much pressure when manually brushing your teeth. This is just as bad as not brushing your teeth at all – maybe even worse. By applying too much pressure with a manual toothbrush, you’re essentially wearing down the enamel on your teeth which can lead to severe dental issues later down the road.

Electric Toothbrush

Electric toothbrushes come in many shapes and sizes. We’re not going to recommend one brand over another in this article. If you perform the proper research, you will find a brand that suits your lifestyle and oral requirements the best.

As the name states, electric toothbrushes operate on electricity – whether they are plugged into the wall or operate on battery power. There is a computer chip inside them that is pre-programmed with the optimal brushing patterns and a time limit that’s agreed upon by dental experts.

Why buy an electric toothbrush over a manual one?

Electric toothbrushes are more efficient and can give you peace of mind that you’re being 100% thorough in brushing your teeth on a daily basis. These kinds of brushes are recommended by dentists for patients who have poor brushing skills or who aren’t 100% vigilant in making sure they’re using proper brushing techniques (and time limits) when using a manual toothbrush.

Many people could stand to benefit from using an electric toothbrush. Think of how many times you were brushing your teeth at night and basically “phoned it in”. You could have done a real shoddy job, but were so tired or pre-occupied with something else that you either didn’t realize it or just shrugged it off. Every once in a while, and it doesn’t matter, but over time it can add up. And most of us are poor at keeping track of nights when we didn’t brush as good as we should have.

Pros of an Electric Toothbrush

  • Better plaque removal – According to a study performed in 2005, “Brushes that worked with a rotation oscillation action removed more plaque and reduced gingivitis more effectively than manual brushes in the short and long term... No other powered brush designs were consistently superior...” The human hand cannot perform as efficient and good of job removing plaque than the oscillating head of an electric toothbrush.
  • Easier to use – Simply grab it, push the power button and let the pre-programmed toothbrush run its course. Once it’s done, it will automatically shut off and you can then rinse your mouth with a piece of mind knowing that your teeth have been thoroughly brushed.
  • Technology – Some of the newer electric toothbrushes on the market incorporate such advanced technology features such as pressure signals to indicate when you’re brushing too hard, multiple brush heads for various kinds of teeth, pulsating/oscillating, cupping and sonic technologies that help remove plaque and food 10x better than any manual brushing could.

Cons of an Electric Toothbrush

  • If it’s battery operated, you will need to change out the batteries every so often.
  • Electric toothbrushes cost more than a standard toothbrush you can buy at the local drugstore – however, due to the superior teeth cleaning the electric toothbrush will perform on a daily/nightly basis, you could be preventing a major – and expensive dental issue years down the road. In short, it could pay for itself ten-fold over the course of a few years.
  • Easy to break – if you drop your manual toothbrush, oh well. Run out and spend $5 at the local drugstore. If you drop your electric toothbrush, there is a chance it could break beyond repair.

Manual or Electric?

If you’re like most people out there, you would stand to benefit from switching from a manual toothbrush over to an electric one. Unless you’re 110% vigilant and conscious of perfectly brushing your teeth (with utmost care and precision) in the morning and nights, you would get a much better cleaning if you were to use an electric toothbrush.

The pros of an electric toothbrush far outweigh the cons. Yes, it does cost more than a manual toothbrush, but if it saves you just one cavity or prevents gingivitis from occurring (due to its superior cleaning power), then you’re way ahead of the game. The heavy cost of filling in one cavity, or having a tooth extraction far outweigh the initial cost of an electric toothbrush.

​Safe Foods to Eat After Having Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

November 2nd, 2017

wisdom teeth foodsWisdom teeth are a set of molars in the very back of the mouth. They usually come in your late teens or early 20’s. For a lucky few people, their wisdom teeth are properly aligned and healthy. For the rest of us, our wisdom teeth come in misaligned and in some cases – growing in sideways deep beneath the gum line.

Misaligned wisdom teeth usually come in at an angle to the jaw. They can crowd other teeth and cause issues with nerves or the jawbone. In some cases, they can be impacted – meaning that 90% of the tooth is below the gum line and only a small top portion is visible. In others, the wisdom teeth can come in at a horizontal angle and start pushing against other teeth.

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause some of the most excruciating pain you will ever feel in your entire life. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that people visit the dentist starting around age 18-20 to see if their wisdom teeth are about to cause problems.

Surgery/Recovery

The way your wisdom teeth are removed is entirely dependent upon the position they sit in your mouth. For some people, their dentist can easily extract the tooth under local anesthesia. For others, a visit to the oral surgeon is required. In very complicated scenarios, the wisdom tooth will have to be removed in sections and this can add significantly to the length and cost of the surgery.

Recovery from wisdom teeth removal is like other tooth removal surgeries. For the first 24 hours you will most likely experience some bleeding from the surgical area. Your dentist will have given you some gauze pads. Change the pads out every hour or so. If they gave you pain meds or antibiotics, be sure to take them as prescribed.

Immediately After the Surgery

You should avoid any hot/cold or hard foods (such as crunchy potato chips and pretzels) for the first 24 hours after the surgery. The surgical site is still considered an open wound (until the bleeding stops) and the slightest agitation from chewing hard food could cause it to open up and bleed again.

Your local pharmacy or grocery store carries nutritional meal replacement drinks. They sometimes come in chocolate or vanilla flavors. They taste very good and have all the nutrients and vitamins that can help speed up the healing process.

Many people who have had their wisdom teeth removed opt for these meal replacement drinks for the first 24 hours after the surgery. If you go this route, be sure to drink it straight from the bottle. Do not use a straw as the suction your mouth creates could cause harm to the surgical site.

1-2 Weeks Post-Surgery

As time goes by, your mouth slowly starts to heal. If you follow the after-care instructions of your dentist, perform daily oral hygiene, and take care of the surgical site, you’ll help speed up the healing process.

Here are a list of foods that you could eat/drink for the first 1-2 weeks after your surgery.

Milkshakes/Protein drinks

These drinks are not only healthy and good for you, but they won’t cause any agitation to the surgical area. Instant breakfast packets (that are to be mixed with milk) are also a great alternative to the food you would normally consume.

Fruit Smoothies

If you’re fortunate enough to own a blender, gather up some fruit, yogurt, and ice and make yourself a healthy and cold drink. You can even add some protein powder into the mix to increase the nutritional value. Avoid using a straw to drink the smoothie, as the suction can harm the surgical site.

Mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are not only healthy, but easy to eat after you’ve had your wisdom teeth extracted. You can put gravy, butter, or even sour cream to liven things up. It’s advisable to not eat the mashed potatoes when they are hot – allow them to cool a bit before you eat them. The name of the game here is to avoid agitating the surgical site.

Soup

Soup is another nutritious and healthy food to eat after your surgery. It goes down easy and if you add some freshly cut vegetables to it, you can increase the nutrients your body receives. Avoid eating the soup when it’s hot, try to wait for it to cool down a bit.

Applesauce

Applesauce not only goes down smooth, but it’s very healthy as well. It contains vitamin C and dietary fiber which contribute to your healthy diet. There is very little jaw movement when consuming applesauce, so there is less risk of agitating the surgical area. You can use store-bought applesauce, or if you want more nutritional value, you can prepare homemade applesauce.

Instant Oatmeal

Instant oatmeal makes for a great quick snack or early morning breakfast. You should wait until the 3rd day after the surgery to eat oatmeal as the oats could cause irritation.

Chicken/Vegetable/Beef Broth

If you have the time, try preparing a homemade broth. It is very nutritious and will help speed up the healing process. If you decide to put beef or meat into the broth, make sure that it’s cooked very well. This will help you chew it better and kill off any bacteria/etc that may be present in the raw meat.

Conclusion

Millions of Americans have their wisdom teeth removed every year. It’s a safe, routine procedure that can alleviate the excruciating pain that some people feel when their wisdom teeth are impacted or are causing other dental issues. Proper after-care, such as watching what you eat, will help speed up the healing process and have you feeling better in no time.

The best time to detect potential wisdom teeth issues is when you’re in your late teens or early 20’s. If you or a family member are in this age group, give us a call at (312) 787-2131 or contact us to schedule an appointment to have one of our dentists perform an examination.

If you are currently suffering from mouth pain and suspect it might be your wisdom teeth, give us a call immediately as we can help stop the pain and chart a course to help fix your dental problems.

​How Often Should You Change Your Toothbrush?

October 5th, 2017

toothbrushIf you’re like most people, your parents and your dentist have repeatedly told you that you need to change your toothbrush every so often. The keyword being “every so often” is somewhat vague and subjective. We’re going to look at exactly what kind of toothbrush you should buy as well as clear up any misconceptions regarding the timeline to change your toothbrush.

Soft, Medium, or Hard?

If you’ve walked down the oral care aisle of your local drugstore lately, you’ve seen the wide variety of toothbrushes on the market. From ones with a conventional head (that’s shaped like a rectangle with rounded corners) to ones with a diamond head, it’s sometimes confusing to know which toothbrush to buy.

Generally speaking, the one with a diamond shaped head can get into hard-to-reach places inside your mouth. Some newer brushes will come with bristles of varying sizes and shapes. Their purpose is to give the brush a more effective clean and by varying the size and shape of the bristles, you can cover more surface area of your teeth. This will enable a more effective clean when you brush your teeth.

Then you have the hardness of the bristles: soft, medium, hard. The majority of dentists recommend you use a soft-bristled brush if you have sensitive teeth and gums. If there is a significant buildup of plaque, you may want to consider a medium brush for a more effective cleaning.

There’s really no good reason for selecting a toothbrush with hard bristles. While some people claim to prefer hard bristles, they can cause more harm than good by removing tooth enamel due to improper brushing. Several scientific studies have been performed on the damage that improper brushing of one’s teeth can cause.

Physical Damage

If your toothbrush has frayed or splayed bristles, it’s long overdue for a change. Damaged bristles can do more harm than good. Considering toothbrushes are relatively inexpensive, you should run out and buy a new one if you notice any physical damage to it.

The same goes for the heads of electric toothbrushes. The instructions of the manufacturer will give you a “change date”. It’s best to follow their recommended suggestions. Don’t try to stretch it out, thinking you’re going to save a buck or two.

Germs and the Toilet

When you flush your toilet, the swirling vortex of water shoots microscopic water droplets as high as 10” into the air. These droplets of water can contain viruses such as E. coli and Staph. They can stay airborne for up to 30 minutes, and some of them can even find their way onto your toothbrush.

If you can help it, move your toothbrush holder to the far side of your bathroom counter (away from the toilet) and your sink. When you wash your hands, microscopic germs can go airborne and land on your toothbrush.

There are relatively inexpensive toothbrush holders on the market that have a top or cap. They will prevent airborne germs from the toilet getting onto your toothbrush.

If you drop your toothbrush on the floor, there is no such thing as a “5 second rule”. Bacteria and viruses that are tracked in by your shoes have their suitcases in hand and when a toothbrush hits the floor, they hop on board for a quick ride into your mouth.

When you flush your toilet, do it with the lid down. It will contain the microscopic spray that occurs with every flush.

Preventative Maintenance

Every so often, take your toothbrush and dip it into a cup of hydrogen peroxide or mouthwash (the ones with anti-bacterial agents). If you accidentally drop your toothbrush on the ground, a 30 second or so rinse in a cup of hydrogen peroxide should sterilize it enough.

Some people go as far as putting their toothbrush in the dishwasher on occasion. If this seems like something you’d like to try, try putting it on the top rack of the dishwasher just to be safe. The “heat” cycle gets extremely hot and is enough to kill the germs.

Try not to store your toothbrush in an air-tight container. This could cause the brush to dry out and ideal conditions for mold to form.

Sick or Not Feeling Well?

If a loved one is sick or not feeling well, make sure that the toothbrush heads are not touching each other when you store them. That’s the quickest way to get whatever bug they have. If you yourself aren’t feeling too good, make sure to change your toothbrush when you start feeling better. The germs you had prior will be all over your toothbrush and could cause a 2nd round of not feeling well to occur.

Summary

Dentists suggest that you change your toothbrush every 3-4 months. If damage occurs or if it falls on the floor, change it immediately. By keeping in mind these simple preventative maintenance tips, you will keep your mouth germ free and your toothbrush in proper working condition.

Dentists also suggest you have a professional teeth cleaning performed at least once a year. All the brushing in the world can’t make up for a proper dental cleaning, as dentists have specialized tools that get in the nooks and crannies a toothbrush can’t.

At Water Tower Dental Care, we specialize in helping our patients look and feel their best. Give us a call at (312) 787-2131 to schedule an appointment to get your teeth cleaned. You’ll walk out of our offices with a squeaky clean look and feel to your mouth.

​What To Expect At Your Baby's First Dentist Appointment

July 6th, 2017

babys first dentist appointmentEnsuring your baby sees a dentist early in life is good practice for setting the stage for good oral health for the rest of your child’s life. Babies are born with all of their primary teeth already in their gums. Babies typically start to teethe between the 6 months of age and one year. While baby teeth erupt at different times for every child, they all catch up to one another by the time they are teenagers and usually have all of their adult teeth by their adolescent years. But before you start thinking about braces and retainers, let’s look at when you should start bringing your baby to the dentist, what you can expect, and how to plan for subsequent follow-up visits with your baby’s dentist.

When Should You Take Your Baby to the Dentist?

Typically, babies should be seen by a dentist when their first teeth start to break through the gums. Before then, your family doctor, or pediatrician will typically keep an eye on the baby’s mouth and gums to make sure there are no problems before the baby is seen by a dentist. By the time the baby has started to teethe, they are usually 6 months old. Parents can wait until the baby has more teeth if the teeth are coming in without too much trouble, but you won’t want to wait longer than one year of age. This is an important time your baby’s development. Some dentists may recommend seeing the baby earlier, or later in their development, so when you call your dentist to ask for an appointment, be sure to clarify when the dentist prefers to start following a child patient.

What Kind of Dentist Should You Take Your Child to Visit?

There are two types of dentists that babies and children typically see when they are in their teething stages of life: a general dentist, one that sees both children and adults on a regular basis for cleanings and common dental problems; and a pediatric dentist, which may or may not be available in your area. Pediatric dentists specialize in working with infants, children, and teenagers, and typically have 2-3 years more training than a general dentist. You may be referred to a pediatric dentist if your baby has issues with teething or their gums. Dentists, in general, are well equipped to manage the day to day care of infants during their teething stages.

How to Prepare For Your First Visit to the Dentist With Your Baby

When you first call for an appointment with your dentist, you’ll want to have your dental insurance or other healthcare related information ready, such as the baby’s date of birth, how many teeth they have, if they have seen another dentist prior to this visit, and if they have any medical conditions.

What Will the First Visit to the Dentist be Like?

When you arrive at the dentist, you’ll register for your baby’s appointment and have to present your dental insurance information, if applicable. It won’t be much different from when you visit the dentist yourself, except that you’ll have to provide information for your baby. Once you’ve been registered, the dentist will usually ask the mother or father to sit in the dental chair and place the baby on his or her lap. This is much easier than trying to have a baby sit still in a large chair. Some pediatric dentists office will have high chairs - like the ones you use to feed your baby in an upright position - but for the most part, it’s easier to just sit the baby on a parent’s lap.

The first visit to the dentist will not take much time at all. Because your baby won’t have many teeth and will likely have a healthy mouth overall, the dentist will do a general inspection of the gums and any teeth that have erupted (pushed through the gums), ask parents if there have been any problems associated with teething or other issues of the mouth, and then maybe do a light gum cleaning. The dentist will also ask about eating or nursing habits and check for evidence of bottle decay. The dentist and assistant will record the information collected throughout the examination and will likely book you a follow-up appointment every 6 to 9 months. The follow-up time is usually 6 months, however, some medical insurance plans will only allow for 9 or 12-month visits. You’ll want to discuss this with the booking receptionist when you are making subsequent appointments.

How to Care For Your Baby’s Teeth

Your baby’s dentist will be able to show you how to properly care for your baby’s teeth. Even if your baby doesn’t have any teeth yet, it is important to “brush” the gums. There are several devices available for cleaning gums that slip on the end of parent’s finger, and the mother or father can gently run the gums to clean them. When your baby does get teeth, using a very soft bristle brush, with just water or with a toothpaste designed for infants is best. The use of fluoride is not recommended for children under the age of 3. Special toothpaste is available for infants without fluoride at your local department store, pharmacy and grocery stores. Your dentist can also provide you with samples of toothpaste that is designed for babies and small children.

New parents are often plagued by worrying about their new babies. They want the best for them and their health, and sometimes, parents don’t realize the importance of having a dentist check your baby at such an early age, especially if everything appears to be normal. A dentist is trained to spot issues that parents may not be aware of and can remedy problems early on for the child so that they may experience the best possible chance for good oral health throughout their lifetime. Your baby’s dentist should be included as part of an overall good health plan as the baby grows into childhood and adolescents, so make your appointment to have your baby’s teeth and mouth examined today.

​Newborn Thrush vs Milk on Tongue: What's on My Baby's Tongue?

March 9th, 2017

Newborn Thrush

Noticing a white coating on your baby’s tongue can definitely be a cause for concern for many parents. Sometimes there’s a completely harmless reason, such as milk staining the tongue, or it can also be a symptom of newborn thrush.

In this post, we’ll examine what newborn thrush is and how you can tell if your child has it.

What is Newborn thrush?

Newborn thrush is caused by an over-abundance of yeast called Candida Albicans. This fungus normally lives in everyone’s mouth, but an overgrowth can result in an infection. The immune system usually controls this and stops illness from occurring. However, in babies, the immune system is still developing, which is why thrush in newborns is very common. In fact, the same type of infection can cause diaper rash, another common ailment on babies. Thankfully, yeast infections are usually harmless and are easily treatable.

Newborn Thrush vs Milk Coating

So how can you tell the difference between newborn thrush and milk coating?

We know that a baby’s main source of food is usually milk, which can leave a white coating in the mouth. This white coating may mirror the look of thrush on the tongue, and so it may be hard for new parents and caregivers to tell the difference.

When milk stains the tongue, it tends to be temporary, so it is always worth a look to see what your baby’s mouth looks like after a feed. Milk will wipe off easily, leaving a healthy pink tongue underneath.

Thrush, however, can result in white patches found on the tongue. It can look like cottage cheese or curdled milk, which is why it is sometimes hard to detect. These patches can be wiped away as well, but will often leave red, sore spots, and can sometimes result in bleeding. This does not always cause a baby to fuss but they may find it difficult to feed afterwards.

Preventing Newborn Thrush

Thrush in newborns is rarely serious and is easily treated. Sometimes the ailment can go away on its own, but it is always worth seeing your doctor for treatment.

Dentists suggest cleaning your baby’s mouth after each feed. You can do this with a sterile gauze or clean washcloth dipped in warm water, and then wipe away any milk residue.

Newborn thrush may look like a scary thing to new mothers, but it doesn’t have to be, as long as you know what to look for and how to differentiate between thrush and milk on the tongue. Seek appropriate treatment for both you and your baby if problems develop, but remember that thrush is a common issue that is usually harmless and easily treated.

If you have additional questions about thrush and how to prevent it, don’t be afraid to bring it up at your next dental appointment. Request an appointment with our dentists today!

Floss Picks vs. Traditional String Floss: Do Picks Work?​

January 19th, 2017

Floss Picks vs. Traditional String Floss: Do Picks Work?​

Flossing is a crucial component of a healthy mouth – the American Dental Association recommends cleaning between the teeth once a day – but it’s a commonly overlooked hygiene practice. With many types of interdental cleaning tools on the market, there’s no excuse to skip that part of the routine. But when it comes to flossing, what kind of floss works best?

Traditional String Floss

There are many different kinds of dental floss – waxed, unwaxed, dental tape – that come in plastic containers holding long spools of one continuous thread. To floss, one piece, typically about 18 inches long, is broken off and wound around the fingers, then worked gently in between the teeth as well between each tooth and the gumline. A new, clean segment of floss is generally used for each tooth.

Traditional floss can be tricky for some people to use properly. It requires dexterous fingers to unwrap a new section of floss for each tooth, and it can be difficult to reach the crevices between teeth in the back of the mouth. Some people also find traditional floss to be too harsh on their gums, causing pain and bleeding.

Floss Picks

Floss picks, or flosser picks, are small, plastic devices with a piece of dental floss pre-threaded through the opening. Floss picks should be worked gently in between the teeth the same way as traditional flossing, to help loosen and remove plaque and food particles.

Picks are a newer kind of interdental cleaner, and they’re popular because they’re easy to use. The plastic handle makes it easier to hold, eliminating the need to wind and unwind sections of floss around the fingers, which can be awkward and uncomfortable. It also allows for better access to the teeth further back in the mouth. Floss picks are also portable and easy to stash in a purse or desk drawer to take care of any unsightly food particles while at work or eating out.

But the same plastic design that makes floss picks easy to use also makes them somewhat less effective than standard dental floss. They can clean between the back teeth better, but the design makes it more challenging to use proper flossing technique throughout the mouth, working in between both sides of the tooth and under the gum line.

Using just a single pick to floss the entire mouth can also create an unhealthy oral environment by redistributing particles and bacteria from one part of the mouth to another. With traditional dental floss, a clean section of floss is typically used for each tooth, but with picks, the same very small segment of floss is re-used over and over.

Which is Better: Traditional Floss or Picks?

When it comes to dental floss, the tried and true traditional string floss is generally more effective. Using it with proper technique helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth, which prevents bad bacteria from growing. With many different varieties and even flavors, there’s a dental floss for nearly everyone, from children to those with sensitive gums.

Using floss picks is still better than simply forgoing flossing, however. For people who struggle to use traditional floss, like those with very large or arthritic hands, or those who can never seem to reach the very back teeth, floss picks are a great alternative.

Want more tips for healthy teeth? Contact Water Tower Dental Care today to learn more.

Best Christmas Gifts for Healthy Teeth!

December 1st, 2016

Best Christmas Gifts for Health TeethForget the gingerbread men, the fruitcakes, the candy canes and the champagne. This year, give your loved ones the gifts that will undo the effects of unhealthy holiday eating and drinking! Fancy toothbrushes and whitening treatments can be pricey so if you’re feeling generous this holiday season, give someone a gift that will keep giving: the gift of healthy teeth and gums!

Sonicare Electric Toothbrush

There are many players in the electric toothbrush game, but Sonicare remains the top name in the field. We always recommend the Sonicare Electric Toothbrush to our patients. Sonicare, created by Phillips, has at least ten different brushes for every budget and everyone in the family.

The DiamondClean electric toothbrush is top of the line with multiple brush heads and power modes, wireless charging, a travel case, and a variety of color options. Kids can begin to build healthy dental hygiene habits with Sonicare for Kids, featuring a Coaching App and stickers. Sonicare is the electric toothbrush most recommended by dentists, including us! With regular use, the brand boasts you’ll have healthier gums in just two weeks.

Zoom Teeth Whitening Treatment

Phillips continues to dominate the oral health market with its Zoom Whitening Treatments. Zoom treatments are professional whitening treatments administered by a dental professional or prepared by the dentist for home use. The treatments are effective, and results are instant – up to 8 shades whiter in just 45 minutes! Take a look at our patients’ before and after photos here!

There are different treatment options based on each individual’s needs and budget. If your loved one wants to whiten their teeth, giving them the gift of perfectly white teeth is a great option for this holiday season! Contact us to learn more!

Oral Probiotics

Probiotics have seen an increase in popularity in recent years. But they’re not just good for a healthy gut. Oral probiotics can help increase the health of oral biofilm for a healthier mouth. Unlike the probiotics for healthy digestion and immunity that can be found in certain foods, oral probiotics from healthy live strains can only be found in specific supplements.

These supplements work best in children to set up a healthy oral environment early on and in people who already follow good overall oral hygiene practices. They usually come in the form of lozenges that are dissolved in the mouth and are distributed by dental offices. They could be a great addition to another in-office gift like a whitening treatment! Learn more by giving us a call!

Travel Dental Hygiene Kit

A travel dental hygiene kit can make a fantastic gift. If you know someone who’s traveling over the holidays, gift it in advance to keep their teeth shiny and strong throughout their travels. Travel dental kits usually include travel size toothbrushes and toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental floss. They come in all price points and are available at nearly any drugstore or general retailer.

Many travel dental kits come in plastic zip pouches to prevent spills or leakage into luggage. Travel dental hygiene kits contain everyday essentials for everyone, and at Christmas time, many come in festive colors and prints. They can make a great gift or a stocking stuffer!

Travel Toiletry Bag

Travel-size foldable toothbrushes and tiny toothpaste can be perfect for some travelers. But for those who like to bring their regular, full-size equipment, a travel toiletry bag with different compartments makes a great gift.

Toiletry Bags or Dopp kits come in different fabrics, sizes, and with different features. Some are large enough to accommodate an entire travel dental kit, while others feature compartments for toothbrushes and oral care items. They can be found in a variety of styles and price points – just be sure there’s a separate section specifically for dental items so they stay clean and sanitary during travel.

We wish you a very merry Christmas and holiday season! If you have any questions about your dental health during the winter, don’t hesitate to contact Water Tower Dental Care!

How to Reduce Tooth Sensitivity During Chicago's Winter

November 17th, 2016

How to Reduce Tooth Sensitivity During Chicago's WinterDental hypersensitivity, also known as sensitive teeth, happens because of receding gums and/or because the enamel protecting the teeth has somehow become thinner. Brushing too hard can push back the gums and expose the roots of teeth, while acidic food and drinks, such as wine, can weaken the structure of the enamel and cause sensitivity. You know your teeth are sensitive when it’s painful to consume hot or cold foods and beverages.

In addition to certain food, did you know that breathing in the cold air can also trigger sensitivity? If you're in Chicago, where the winter temperature can reach -20 or lower, tooth sensitivity can be worsened by chilly air. Here are some ways for you to enjoy holiday treats and breathe in the winter air without worrying about painful teeth.

Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth

There are numerous types of toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth. Some of them are also formulated to whiten teeth and prevent cavities. This kind of toothpaste works to coat your enamel and lessen the sensitivity that your nerves feel. Look for American Dental Association (ADA) approved toothpaste brands with fluoride, potassium nitrate, or strontium chloride. Your dental care provider can also use professional strength toothpaste for additional relief and protection from hypersensitivity.

Use a Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride treatments in toothpaste or mouth rinse can prevent sensitivity. Fluoride reinforces the enamel to resist food acid and it also prevents tooth decay. Fluoride intake is important for children, as their permanent teeth erupt, but adults can still use fluoride treatments for overall oral health. While there are over-the-counter fluoride treatments available, their concentrations are lower than professional treatments provided by dentists. Whichever option you choose, fluoride treatments can still benefit you even as an adult.

Treat Receding Gums

If your gums are receding from aggressive brushing or gum disease, visit your dentist to discuss treatment options. Make sure to maintain good oral hygiene. Your periodontist may recommend deep cleaning or, in worst cases, surgery (gingivoplasty) to correct your gums. Treating receded gums can protect your roots and prevent tooth loss.

Avoid Over-Brushing

The recommended number of brushing is two times—first thing in the morning and before bedtime. Brush for two minutes using a soft bristle toothbrush. Avoid brushing immediately after meals. The acids in the food and drink we consume weaken our teeth and brushing right after will only strip the teeth of more minerals, therefore resulting in more sensitivity.

After meals, rinse using water to neutralize the mouth’s pH balance and let saliva break down the acids and sugars first. If you must brush, wait at least 30 minutes after eating to do so. Learn more about how to avoid over-brushing here!

Avoid Acidic and Sugary Food and Drinks

Make conscious choices about your diet to prevent cavity formation and enamel breakdown. Avoid eating sugary food like candy and drinking carbonated drinks, such as sodas. Wine is highly acidic, but if you pair cheese with it, the cheese's enzymes help break down the acids. Choose food high in phosphorus such as fatty fish and tofu, and low-acid fruits like apples and bananas.

Get Your Teeth Checked Out

See your dentist once or twice a year for checkup and cleaning. You may need to visit more often if you are prone to getting frequent cavities or if you have a gum disease. Your dentist can provide you with a combination of solutions if you suffer from sensitive teeth. Dental appointments are crucial for your oral health. Until then, brave the Chicago winter with these tips to reduce sensitive teeth.

We hope these tips help you face Chicago’s chilly winter with a grin! If you struggle with sensitive teeth, it’s very important to see a dentist to find out what’s at the root of your sensitivity problem. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with Chicago’s number one dentistry, Water Tower Dental Care, today!

Here's Why Flossing Every Day is Still Extremely Important, Despite Recent News

August 25th, 2016

Woman flossing every day because it's important to oral heatlhFlossing has been making headlines recently thanks to the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The most recently released guidelines did not include flossing, which was once a recommended activity for daily health. But does this mean you shouldn’t floss every day? No, not at all. Not flossing can lead to serious dental problems. Trust us - we’ve seen how skipping the string can damage your oral health over and over again.

Though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services didn’t include flossing in its 2015 dietary guidelines due to a lack of evidence, the department stated that this does not imply that flossing is not an important oral hygiene practice. In fact, the department stated that cleaning between teeth with floss is an important oral hygiene practice, and, along with professional cleanings and tooth brushing, has been shown to disrupt and remove plaque, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).
When it comes down to it, the U.S. Department of Health and Services didn’t include flossing this year because of a lack of documented research that flossing benefits you, not because it doesn’t actually provide any benefits. Flossing research is notoriously known for being high in costs and taking a long time, which explains why there isn’t a substantial amount of research showing its benefits. After all, it can take years to develop gum disease or tooth decay due to not flossing.
Here are four reasons why flossing every day is extremely important, and why you definitely shouldn’t stop now.

Clears Out Plaque in Tight Spaces

Sure, brushing can take care of plaque. But brush bristles can’t effectively clean out the tight spaces in between your teeth. And mouthwash typically isn’t powerful enough to move plaque that’s stuck between teeth. This is where floss comes in. Floss and interdental cleaners can clean out plaque that builds up between your teeth better than any other tools. Getting rid of that plaque will help to prevent cavities from forming in between your teeth and lower your risk of developing gum disease.

Fights Off Gum Disease and Tooth Decay

Scraps of food and bacteria can easily get stuck in the areas where your teeth and gums meet. These particles and bacteria can eventually transform from plaque into tartar, a hard deposit that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
If you don’t get rid of hard-to-reach plaque with floss, you may notice that your gums become red and swollen and bleed easily. This is a sign that you have gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. Left untreated, the plaque and tartar can spread deeper into your gum line, causing more severe gum disease (periodontitis), which can lead to tooth and bone loss. Bacteria can also eat away at your enamel and teeth, causing tooth decay.

Gets Your Teeth Looking as Good as New

Nobody wants to look at a smile only to find big clumps of plaque and rotting food between the teeth. Flossing your teeth can help to make your smile look beautiful by keeping it clear of the nasty stuff that can build up inside your mouth. This will result in a bolder, brighter smile.

Fresher Breath

Flossing isn’t all about oral health and appearance. It can also make your breath smell better than ever! If you don’t floss, food can sit in between your teeth and rot for weeks. As you can imagine, this doesn’t make your breath smell too great. Flossing will keep rotting food particles out of your mouth and allow saliva to effectively move through your teeth, keeping everything clean and smelling great!
Flossing every day is essential to your oral health. Without flossing, you wouldn’t be able to get rid of hard-to-reach plaque, which can lead to serious gum disease and tooth decay over time. Learn more about how often you should floss and common flossing mistakes here.

5 Unusual Tips to Keep Your Gums in Tip-Top Shape from Our Dentists

August 18th, 2016

5 Unusual Tips to Keep Your Gums in Tip-Top Shape from Our DentistsThink flossing and brushing are the only paths to healthy gums? While doing both of these things is essential to the health of your gums, there are a lot of other ways you can keep your gums as healthy as possible. We asked our dentists at Water Tower Dental Care to share some of the most effective tips for keeping your gums healthy that you might not have heard before. Here are 5 unusual tips to keep your gums in tip-top shape from our dentists!

Scrape your tongue

Tongue scrapers aren’t just for bad breath. The bacteria on your tongue that causes bad breath can also spread to your gums and cause serious damage, leading to periodontal disease, gum infections and gum recession. With its ridges, small bumps and moist surface, your tongue offers the perfect place for bacteria to grow. You want to make sure to scrape the bacteria off of your tongue to keep it from spreading. Using a tongue scraper will also keep your breath smelling fresh.

Rub essential oils on your gums

Essential oils are described as essential for a reason: they are extremely important for our health. We’ve found that essential oils work wonders on our patients’ gums. We use PerioScience Essential Oils in the form of a gel. Rubbing these natural oils on your gums every evening after you brush and floss can help keep your breath fresh, soothe your gums, keep bacteria away, and prevent gingivitis.

Chew gum

Chewing gum can keep your gums in great shape! But you can’t just chew any old gum. The xylitol in gum is what really keeps your gums healthy. Look for a sugar-free gum with xylitol. Since bacteria can’t digest xylitol like it digest sugar, it won’t grow from xylitol. Xylitol also actively works to keep the pH level neutral in your mouth. The less acidic your pH levels are, the less bacteria will be able to grow, which means less of a risk of gingivitis and gum disease. Xylitol also helps to keep bacteria off your teeth, which can damage your gums.
Along with chewing gum, you can find xylitol in toothpaste, mouthwash, candy, and mints.

Wash your mouth out with antimicrobial mouth rinse

Bacteria are your gums’ number one enemy. Antimicrobial mouth rinses destroy the bacteria that cause gum disease until they are almost completely gone. These rinses are much more effective than over-the-counter mouthwashes. We typically only suggest antimicrobial mouth rinses to patients who suffer with moderate to severe periodontal disease. Feel free to contact us to see if you would benefit from antimicrobial mouthwash.

Take oral probiotics specifically for your mouth

Probiotics are no longer used only for digestive and immune health. There are now probiotics designed specifically for oral health that can improve the health of your gums! Oral probiotics stimulate the production of healthy bacteria that keep your gums and mouth healthy. They also help to battle bad breath.
We hope you use these unusual tips alongside your normal brushing, flossing and rinsing routine to make your gums even healthier! Check out our dentists’ unusual tips for keeping your teeth healthy. We’re always here to help put you on a path to a healthier mouth!

There's A Gap Between My Baby's Front Teeth! What it Means & What to Do

July 28th, 2016

There's A Gap Between My Baby's Front Teeth! What it Means & What to DoBabies are incredibly cute - especially your own baby. But what happens when your baby’s teeth start coming through and you notice a big gap between their front teeth? You may start to wonder if there’s something wrong with your baby’s mouth, or if you did something wrong. Before you rush your baby to the dentist, read this article. It’s likely that your baby’s gaps are completely normal! In fact, they can actually be a good sign.

Why Baby Teeth Are Important

Why worry about your baby’s teeth when they are bound to fall out one day anyway? Baby teeth are actually very important, both for your child’s health right now and their future.
It goes without saying that baby teeth help your child chew food and speak. But a lesser known fact is that baby teeth actually create a path for your child’s adult teeth to grow in by holding a space for them, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). If your baby loses a tooth too early, then a permanent tooth may drift into the area, making less room for adult teeth to come in later. This can lead to a crooked or crowded smile.

What Causes Gaps Between Your Child’s Teeth?

Now that you know how important baby teeth are to your child’s future smile, we’re here to hopefully alleviate your worry It’s very normal for children to have gaps between their baby teeth. In fact, it’s typically a good thing! Many children have gaps between their teeth because of natural development, their teeth are small, or their frenulum. While the first two causes are relatively self-explanatory, let’s explain the third a little more.
Your frenulum is the piece of connective tissue that connects your gum between your two front teeth and upper lip. If you lift up your upper lip, you can probably feel it! This frenulum is thought to help position your baby’s teeth, according to Victoria State Government. When the frenulum is oversized, it can cause a gap between your front teeth. Typically, when your baby turns one, the frenulum will naturally shorten. More teeth will grow in to fill the gaps. If there’s still a gap in your baby’s front teeth, large molars may close it when they grow in.
Other causes of gaps, like small teeth, also typically resolve themselves when your child gets their adult teeth. Large gaps can actually be a good thing because they give your adult teeth more space to grow in. This could mean you don’t have to cough up the money for braces when your child grows up.

When Gaps Between Your Baby’s Front Teeth is a Bad Thing

If your child has excessive gaps in their teeth, which is uncommon, it may be a sign that something is wrong. Gaps in your baby’s teeth can also be caused by extra teeth that prevent other teeth from growing in, missing teeth, a large jaw compared to their teeth size, or an oversized frenulum. These causes may affect your baby’s adult teeth, leading to teeth misalignment or a permanent gap.

Treatments for a Gap Between Your Front Teeth

Like we said earlier, it’s likely that the gap in your baby’s front teeth will close naturally. However, there are some uncommon incidents in which the gap persists into your child’s adult teeth. If you think your child is experiencing a gap between his or her front teeth because of extra teeth, missing teeth, a large jaw, or an oversized frenulum, you should take your child do the dentist.
The ADA recommends visiting the dentist within 6 months after your baby’s first tooth comes in. This visit should help you to identify what’s really at the root of your baby’s front tooth gap.
If your baby’s front tooth gap isn’t normal and won’t naturally fix itself, you have several options. Remember, a tooth gap could just be a cosmetic issue. A tooth gap can affect your child’s self esteem, but it can also be a unique and loved feature in your child’s appearance. Make sure to think long and hard about getting your child’s gap closed if it’s purely cosmetic. Gapped teeth may also cause teeth misalignment. In this case, it will likely be best to fix the problem.
Here are some treatments your dentist may recommend to close a gap between your baby’s front teeth.

  • Veneers can be placed on your child’s front teeth to close a small gap between the teeth. These veneers will be slightly wider than your child’s normal teeth to close up the gap.
  • Frenectomy is a surgery that can remove the oversized frenulum that is causing a gap between your child’s front teeth. This will typically be done before the teeth are moved with the other treatments.
  • Removable treatments, like a plate or Invisalign, can be used to move the teeth closer together.
  • Fixed treatments, like braces, can be used with rubber bands and wires to move the teeth closer together.

As you can see, gaps between your child’s front teeth are typically not anything to be worried about. That being said, it’s important to bring your baby to the dentist regularly in case there is a more serious issue behind your baby’s gap. Make sure to bring your baby into the dentist if there are any issues after their first tooth grows in - and not later than their 3rd birthday. The ADA actually even recommends after their 1st birthday. This way, your dentist will be able to closely monitor your child’s baby teeth to see if any issues arise.
There’s no better place to bring your child in for a checkup than Water Tower Dental Care! We’re experts in baby teeth and will make sure to keep you and your child comfortable during your child’s first dentist appointment. Contact us to make an appointment today!

Early for Your Dentist Appointment at WTDC? Here's What You Should Do!

July 7th, 2016

Early for Your Dentist Appointment at WTDC? Here's What You Should Do!The wonderful thing about being early for a Water Tower Dental Care appointment is our location! Since we’re located in what many consider Chicago’s best shopping mall, you don’t have to succumb to boredom while waiting in a dental office for your name to be called. Instead, we encourage you to go out and explore Water Tower Place and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile!

Here are a few of our favorite nearby attractions for you to enjoy if you’re early for an appointment with us (which you may actually want to be after reading this!).

Take a Trip to the Top of The John Hancock at the 360 Chicago Observation Deck

One of the most beautiful panoramic views of the city is just a few steps from the Water Tower Dental Care office! The 360 Chicago Observation Deck at the Hancock building offers breathtaking views of Chicago, giving even the most established residents a fresh new look of the city. Lines can get long, so it’s best to buy tickets ahead of time if you can or scope it out before you commit to buying tickets. We don’t want you waiting so long that you forget about your appointment!
You can save money and time by buying tickets ahead of time here for $20. Chicago residents with an ID can get tickets on site for just $10. If the line’s too long or pricing is too steep for you, check out Tilt instead!
Price: $20 online, $24 on site, $10 on site if you’re a Chicago resident with a valid ID. Tuesday’s are free for Chicago residents!

Get a Bite to Eat

Relax, unwind and feast before you get your pearly whites checked out. Chicago’s Magnificent Mile offers a variety of delicious restaurant options that are walking distance from our office! We’ve listed five of our favorite food options that are good for your teeth in Water Tower Place here. Take a look before you head over!
Price: Varies

Browse the American Girl Place or Chicago Sports Museum with Your Little One

If you’re early for a dentist appointment for your little one, don’t fret! The American Girl Place in Water Tower Place should keep them entertained. This store isn’t your average retail shop. It’s an experience, with a doll hair salon, spa, ear piercing station, and restaurant. It’s also the only American Girl Store in Chicago!
If American Girl isn’t your child’s cup of tea, there’s always the Chicago Sports Museum at Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch, which features unique sports memorabilia, gear and uniforms used in iconic games, and high-tech interactive challenges and experiences.
Prices: American Girl Store: Free without purchase. Chicago Sports Museum: $6 general admission. If you eat at Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch, you can get free tickets to the museum!

Get Cultured at the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA)

If you have an hour or more to spare before your appointment, we suggest visiting the Loyola University Museum of Art. It’s a small but stimulating museum with art that explore the spirit of all faiths and cultures. You will find artwork from Europe during the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque eras as well as more contemporary pieces. Take a look at the museum’s current exhibitions here.
Prices: $9 for general admission. Tuesday’s are free for Chicago residents!
Looking to do something specific before or after your appointment at our dentist’s office? Give us a call today! We’ll set you up with something fun to do. You can also take a look at our guide to Chicago here!

Translucent Teeth: How to Fix Before it Gets Worse

May 19th, 2016

Translucent Teeth: How to Fix Before it Gets WorseTeeth are called pearly whites for a reason. They should be white - not see-through. Along with affecting your appearance, translucent teeth can also signal that something more serious is going on with your teeth. Teeth typically begin to appear translucent when enamel is thinning.

Causes of Translucent Teeth

Wonder why your teeth are becoming ghost-like? It could be a result of acid erosion. If you’re not taking proper care of your teeth, acids in your food and drinks can begin to eat away at your enamel. Very acidic foods include soda, pickles, red wine, tomatoes, and citrus fruits.
Translucent teeth due to thinning enamel isn’t always your fault. Several conditions can cause this issue as well. If you have severe enamel hypoplasia, your enamel will lose minerals and your teeth will appear translucent. This condition is a side effect of both genetic and environmental factors, and occurs when your teeth are developing. Celiac disease can also lead to issues with the development of your enamel. Finally, conditions like bulimia, morning sickness and acid reflux (GERD) can cause acids to erode your tooth enamel.
As you can see, enamel erosion or thinning can be caused by a wide variety of factors. It’s best to visit your dentist to figure out exactly why you’re experiencing translucent teeth so that you can halt the thinning as soon as possible.

How to Fix Translucent Teeth

Once your enamel is gone, it can’t regrow naturally. However, there are some ways the doctor can remineralize your teeth and make them appear whiter and brighter again.

  • Before and After Enamel Remineralization Treatment in ChicagoEnamel Remineralization: During enamel remineralization, your doctor will open up the “pores” in your teeth and penetrate the tooth with calcium phosphate, sodium fluoride and Recaldent. This combination of ingredients will act like enamel by improving the appearance, strength and sensitivity of the tooth. Not only will your teeth be whiter, but they will also be more resistant to acid erosion and decay, will be less sensitive and have less white spots, or none at all. You can see a picture of one of our patient’s teeth before and after enamel remineralization to the right.
  • Veneers: If you want to purely improve the appearance of your teeth, veneers will take the translucency out of your smile. Veneers are simply placed on top of your teeth to cover up the translucent color. You can either choose to receive either traditional porcelain veneers or time-saving minimal prep veneers, depending on your needs and budget.

Steps to Prevent this Problem

While you can’t prevent enamel hypoplasia or celiac disease, you can prevent acid erosion from foods or from conditions like bulimia, acid reflux and morning sickness. Immediately after you eat acidic foods, throw up or experience acid reflux, it’s important that you wash your mouth out with water. Do not brush your teeth right away. Since acids make your enamel more vulnerable, brushing immediately could do more harm to your enamel. Wait at least 30 minutes before you brush, and use mouthwash to ensure you wash all of the acids away.
Worried about your translucent teeth? Don’t be afraid to call Chicago’s #1 dentistry, Water Tower Dental Care. We’ll be happy to discuss what may be happening to your teeth and put together a treatment plan for you. You’ll be on the path to a healthy set of pearly whites in no time!

Is Honey Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

March 24th, 2016

Is Honey Good or Bad for Your Teeth?Many people substitute honey for sugar because of its supposed health benefits. But how does honey stack up to sugar when it comes to teeth? Surprising to many who use honey as an alternative sweetener, honey is mostly made up of sugar, which explains its sweet taste. Let’s take a look at whether the type of sugar that makes up honey is good or bad for your teeth.

What is Honey?

You probably already know that bees create honey. But what exactly is honey? Honey is actually made from the nectar of flowers. Looking deeper into what actually makes up honey, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports just over 82% of honey is sugar.
When it comes to sugar content, honey is about 30% glucose and less than 40% fructose, while regular sugar is made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose, according to Keith Kantor, Ph.D., on Huffington Post. There are also about 20 other sugars in honey. So, as you can see, there isn’t a huge difference between sugar and honey.

Is Honey Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

Since honey is mostly made up of sugar, you shouldn’t consider it good for your teeth. Bacteria love sugar, whether it’s from honey or somewhere else, and will use the energy they get from sugar to multiply on your teeth. As they grow, they form more and more plaque. The bacteria in plaque excrete acids that eat away at your teeth, forming cavities and propelling tooth decay.

Is Honey Better for Your Teeth Than Sugar?

When it comes to your teeth, sugar is sugar. The BBC notes that your body does not differentiate where free sugar comes from, whether it’s honey or table sugar. However, since honey contains more complex sugars, it does take your body more time to break down honey. This means you have more time before the bacteria begins multiplying in your mouth than with sugar. Without proper oral hygiene, sugar from honey, fruit, table sugar, or anywhere else can be detrimental to your teeth.
When it comes to honey, there are much better sugar alternatives for your teeth out there. Polyols like xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, and isomalt are great options. Learn more about the best sweetener alternatives for your teeth here!

How to Take Care of Your Teeth After Eating Honey

Now, just because honey isn’t great for your teeth doesn’t mean you have to stop eating it forever. As long as you consume a moderate amount of honey and practice proper oral hygiene, your teeth should be just fine. Here are a few tips to keep your pearly whites as healthy as possible after eating honey:

  • Wash your mouth out with water or mouth washing right after eating. This will help wash away as much honey as possible so that it can’t sit on your teeth and attract bacteria.
  • Since honey tends to stick to your teeth, it’s important to brush your teeth after consuming it. Make sure to use toothpaste and brush effectively using these techniques!
  • If you have an addiction to honey, visit a dentist to see if your teeth have been negatively affected. We’ll let you know if it’s time to cut down or not, and provide you with ideas for honey alternatives. We can also fill in any cavities or damaged enamel with enamel remineralization.

Water Tower Dental Care's Most Popular Cosmetic Teeth Treatments in Chicago

February 11th, 2016

Water Tower Dental Care's Most Popular Cosmetic Teeth Treatments in ChicagoWhen it comes to your social and professional life, teeth can make a big difference. That’s why we’re focused on making your smile as beautiful as possible. Over the years, we’ve become known as the top cosmetic dentistry in Chicago for our work on pearly whites. Here are a few of our most popular teeth treatments in Water Tower Place, Chicago and why so many people love them.

Invisalign Clear Braces

Traditional braces are so five years ago. But really, why wear annoying, obtrusive and unattractive traditional braces when you can wear invisible braces? Invisalign has become one of our most popular dental treatments because of how easy and transparent it is. Just like traditional braces, Invisalign straightens out your teeth over time. But it does this with clear aligners that can easily be removed whenever you’d like. Learn how Invisalign can fix your underbite too! Take a look at our before and after Invisalign photos here.

Teeth Whitening

There’s a reason most celebrities have shiny white teeth. Whether it makes sense or not, pearly whites make you look young, healthy and successful. We have a ton of patients come through our offices for Zoom! Teeth Whitening because it can make your teeth up to ten shades whiter after just one single one-hour treatment. Fast, effective and long lasting, you can’t beat Zoom! when it comes to teeth whitening. We also offer take home teeth whitening trays if you prefer your couch to the dental chair.
[caption id="attachment_2288" align="aligncenter" width="604"]Water Tower Dental Care Patient After Invisalign, Teeth Whitening and dental veneers A Water Tower Dental Care patient before and after Invisalign, teeth whitening and dental veneers.[/caption]

Dental Veneers

Mask your teeth imperfections with dental veneers! Veneers are so popular because they successfully cover up a variety of different teeth problems, including stains, odd shapes, chips, big spaces, and crooked teeth. Whether Mother Nature didn’t give you the teeth of your dreams, or injury or age has left you with teeth you don’t recognize, veneers can be carefully placed onto your teeth to perfect issues. Check out our before and after porcelain veneers photo gallery!
Carefully designed for your mouth, more permanent porcelain veneers are best for severe dental issues, while minimal prep veneers are the better choice for those who have smaller problems and/or less time. Find out which type of veneer is best for you here.

CEREC One Visit Crowns

Traditionally, it took at least two visits and countless hours to fit, create and place dental crowns. With CEREC One Visit Crown technology, crowns can be perfectly customized and placed to match your teeth in just one hour. You can see why this treatment has become one of our most popular. Take a look at Water Tower Dental patients before and after CEREC One Visit Crowns. Learn more about fixing a broken tooth with CEREC One Visit Crowns here!
These are our most popular cosmetic dental treatments for a reason: they make your smile look better than ever while saving you time! Contact us to learn more about the treatments our office in Water Tower Place, Chicago offers.

How to Avoid Common Problems with Dental Implants

January 21st, 2016

How to Avoid Common Problems with Dental ImplantsOver the years, dental implant surgery has become better and better. In fact, the procedure currently has about a 95% success rate, according to Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Still, like with any surgery, there are some problems that can occur. Thankfully, almost all of these problems are pretty rare and can be avoided with planning and proper care. Here are five of the most common problems with dental implants and how you can avoid them.

Dental Implants Don’t Properly Bond to Jawbone

One of the most common issues by far is that a dental implant won’t properly bond to the jawbone after surgery. Over the few months after your surgery, your dental implant should begin to securely connect with your jawbone. This process is technically known as osseointegration. If the implant falls out, is loose or too much bone loss occurs, then the implant has failed.
An implant may fail to bond to your jawbone for a variety of reasons, including the following. We will go into more details about the specific dental implant problems below throughout the rest of the article.

  • The implant may have been placed in the wrong position
  • You don’t have enough bone density or volume
  • You have damaged structures around your implant
  • Your implant gets cracked or fractured
  • You receive a sudden blow or injury to your face
  • You are a smoker

Infection

If you develop an infection caused by your dental implant, you may need to have it removed. Infections can be caused by bad hygiene during or after your implant surgery. This is why it’s very important to go to a practiced and proven periodontist or surgeon for your surgery. You also need to make sure to practice proper dental hygiene habits every day. Otherwise, you can easily develop an infection. If you have thin gums, are a smoker, or have diabetes, you may be at more risk of developing an infection.

Smoking

One of the top causes of implant failure that we see at Water Tower Dental Care is smoking. Though many smokers have successful implant surgeries, failure rates are significantly higher in smokers than nonsmokers. Smoking increases your chances of getting an infection, improper bonding between your jawbone and implant, and developing peri-implantitis, a destructive disease the causes inflammation around your gums and the bone surrounding your dental implant. Learn more about how smoking negatively impacts dental implants here.

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage after dental implant surgery can be caused by an inexperienced periodontist or dentist. If an implant is placed too close to your nerve, it can cause permanent or temporary nerve damage. This can lead to numbing, tingling, or chronic pain in your tongue, lips, gums, cheek or chin.

Sinus and Bone Density Issues

Some patients may have problems with dental implants because of their sinuses or jawbone. If sinuses are present when you’re getting an implant in the upper row of your teeth, you may develop an infection. Thankfully, this is an easy issue to fix. A dentist should be able to recognize a sinus issue easily, and it can be fixed with surgery. You should always let your dentist know if you have sinus problems before dental implant surgery.
A strong jawbone with enough volume is key to a successful dental implant. If your jawbone doesn’t have enough mass, a sinus lift or bone graft may be performed to improve bone density, volume and space. You need enough bone to support and bond with an implant.

Damage to Surrounding Tissues

Since your implant will penetrate your gums, it’s inevitable that tissue will be damaged when you receive dental implants. However, this damage typically heals quickly and without complications. If you notice excessive bleeding and pain during your first few days after surgery, or if the bleeding and pain continues after a few days, you should let your dentist know. There may be a problem.

Dental Implant Crack

At Water Tower Dental Care, we work with a titanium post and realistic dental crown to make up your dental implant. These dental implants are incredibly strong. But even so, the implants can be cracked or fractured if you are hit hard in the face or if you grind your teeth a lot over a long period of time. This is very rare, but it’s possible. Once the implant breaks, a new one will need to be inserted.
Interested in receiving a dental implant? Contact Water Tower Dental Care today! We work with talented and skilled periodontists to ensure you’re getting the best service possible.

How Chicago Winter Weather Affects Your Teeth and Mouth

December 10th, 2015

How Chicago Winter Weather Affects Your Teeth and MouthEveryone in Chicago knows that the city’s winter weather can be hard on your commute, skin and nose. But extremely cold weather can also affect your teeth and mouth. Many Chicagoans experience uncomfortable sensations or even extreme pain in their mouth while in icy weather. Let’s take a look at why that happens and what you can do to keep your teeth and mouth feeling great all winter long!

The Effects of Chicago Winter Weather On Your Teeth & Mouth

Since teeth are naturally porous and sensitive, many people experience tooth sensitivity in the cold. Subtle irritation from time to time is normal and usually nothing to worry about. However, constant sensitivity in the same area of your mouth during the winter months may mean that the cold air is revealing a problem with your teeth.
If you have regular discomfort in the same area of your tooth, it could be caused by a variety of issues, including tiny fractures, bigger cracks, thin enamel, teeth clenching habits, or cavities. Each of these problems can lead to sensitive areas of your teeth being exposed, which in turn can cause teeth pain and discomfort all winter long.
Fillings, crowns or bridges that don’t fit your teeth anymore may also cause sensitivity.
Now let’s not let teeth take all of the spotlight here. Gum disease may be the culprit when it comes to your sensitive teeth and mouth. Gum disease can cause your gums to move away from your teeth, exposing your very sensitive roots. Two telltale signs of gum disease are sore and inflamed gums.
Surprisingly enough, a sinus infection can also be the source of your tooth pain. Swollen sinuses put pressure on the roots of your teeth, which can cause your teeth to hurt. This typically occurs in the back top teeth.
Finally, cold sores are known to wreak havoc during the winter thanks to the flu, stress, fatigue, and extreme weather conditions, according to Sitavig.

Tips To Keep Your Teeth & Mouth Feeling Better During The Winter

Now that you know what’s causing your teeth and mouth sensitivity during the winter, it’s time to get to the important part: how to make it better. If you’re experiencing regular irritation, you should visit a dentist to get to the root of your problem. It could be something serious, like gum disease. But until then, here are some tips to hold you over:

  • Breathe in through your nose as much as you can. This way, the cold air won’t be able to reach sensitive areas in your mouth and cause irritation.
  • Try not to clench your teeth when you are cold. Clenching can cause tooth erosion and more pain in cold weather.
  • Drinking something warm, like tea, when you’re out in the cold should help ease any pain caused by low temperatures.
  • Make sure you’re brushing your teeth properly twice a day and flossing once a day.
  • Try using a fluoride mouthwash and toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth twice a day to create extra protection from the cold air.
  • If you have allergies or think you might have a sinus infection, visit a doctor to find out how to treat it.
  • Avoid stress, keep your lips moisturized and wash your hands during the winter months to minimize cold sore breakouts, according to Sitavig. You can also receive laser therapy for cold sores at our offices in Chicago! Laser therapy will help reduce the number of breakouts you have by destroying the herpes simplex virus.
  • If your teeth sensitivity or mouth problems persist or feel abnormally bad, make time to visit your dentist. You may have a dental issue that needs to be addressed before it gets worse.

Want to get rid of your winter mouth and teeth issues once and for all? Visit Chicago’s top general and cosmetic dentistry! We’ll do everything we can to get to the root of your mouth discomfort and tooth sensitivity issues.

Does Laser Treatment Work for Cold Sores On Your Lips?

November 19th, 2015

Does Laser Treatment Work for Cold Sores On Your Lips?Keeping your mouth healthy and looking good isn’t limited to what’s inside of it. Though teeth and gums get the spotlight in most dentist offices, cold sores can be even more unsightly and irritating than any issue inside of your mouth. Thankfully, dentists have the technology to get rid of the viruses that cause cold sores on your lips and around your mouth in just minutes. This technology comes in the form of lasers.

How does a laser treat cold sores?

Unlike other cold sore treatments, like creams or ointments, lasers get to the root of the problem. They destroy the herpes simplex virus that actually causes cold sores. How do they do this?
Well, a trained dentist uses precise laser technology to heat up the cold sore. This heat is carefully controlled to one area and never touches the skin, so it won’t harm anything around the cold sore. The heat from the laser not only kills the virus, but it also triggers your body to heal itself more quickly. The treatment only takes about 15 minutes to complete and requires no downtime at all. You’re in the dentist chair, and then you’re out!

What are the results like?

Since lasers destroy the virus, they can stop the cold sores from appearing at all if you haven’t broken out yet. Pretty amazing, right? Once the virus is stopped, the cold sores can no longer appear on your face.
If you already have cold sores on your lips or around your mouth, lasers will significantly speed up the healing time and provide you with immediate relief of symptoms, like pain or itching. The breakout will also stop spreading. You won’t require another treatment.
Since her virus can’t be cured, your cold sores might come back. However, laser treatments extend the length of time between your breakouts. In fact, after several laser treatments in the same area, your cold sores might never come back! Best of all, laser treatments for cold sores are affordable, and may even be covered by your insurance.

How do you know if you have cold sores?

You can recognize cold sores by their appearance. Cold sores form in groups of small blisters. After the blisters form, they soon break open and release clear fluid. Finally, cold sores will crust or scab over and disappear within 2 weeks.
In order to skip all of this unpleasantness, the best thing you can do is get a laser treatment before the blisters appear. Look for signs such as itching, tingling or pain on your lips or around your mouth. Swollen glands, fevers, and sore throats are also signals that cold sores are developing.
When you start feeling the symptoms, you should see a dentist as soon as possible to receive a laser treatment. That way, the cold sores will never appear. At Water Tower Dental Care, we do our best to see patients with cold sores within 24 hours. We can often treat them on the same day that they call! Feel free to contact us immediately after you start feeling cold sore symptoms.

Why is laser treatment better than other cold sore treatments?

We believe that lasers are the best treatments for cold sores, as do our patients who suffer with the herpes simplex virus. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • It only takes a few minutes to complete and requires no penetration of the skin, numbing or anesthesia.
  • Though the technology is new, cold sore laser treatment is affordable and may even be covered by your insurance.
  • Patients receive immediate and drastic relief right after the treatment is over.
  • Over time, lasers can get rid of cold sore breakouts in a specific area forever.
  • Lasers get to the root of the problem by killing the virus.
  • Laser treatment can prevent breakouts before they occur and stops them once they begin.
  • Healing time is much shorter after a laser treatment with no more symptoms.
  • Cold sore breakouts will occur less frequently and intensely in the area treated.

Do you feel cold sores developing? Contact Water Tower Dental Care today, Chicago’s number one dental practice! We’re experts in laser technology, and can help you control your breakouts for years to come.

How Oral Probiotics Benefit Your Dental Health

October 22nd, 2015

Why Oral Probiotics Benefit Your Dental HealthWhen it comes to taking care of your teeth, there’s a lot more you can do than just brushing and flossing. In fact, those are just the first two steps to keeping your teeth healthy. Adding oral probiotics to your teeth-cleaning routine will help to ensure that you keep cavities away and an attractive smile going.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics have been growing in popularity for years because of their ability to improve digestive health. But in recent years, probiotics have also been found to improve your oral health by naturally getting rid of cavity-causing plaque. So what exactly are probiotics and how are they so helpful?
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health defines probiotics as live organisms that are intended to have health benefits. Typically, these live organisms are good bacteria. Yes, you read that right. Bacteria can be good for you - and even for good your teeth. Probiotics work by crowding out the bad bacteria in your mouth with good bacteria. The more good bacteria there are in your mouth, the less room there will be for bad bacteria to grow and rot your teeth, slowing down the plaque build-up process. While foods like yogurt are full of probiotics, the probiotics derived by this kind of food can’t fight bacteria in your mouth like it can in your stomach.

 How Can Probiotics Help Your Mouth and Teeth?

So now that you know that probiotics can cause less bad bacteria to grow in your mouth, you’re probably wondering how exactly that helps your teeth and mouth. Evora, a maker of oral probiotics, notes that there are three major ways that the ProBiora3 probiotics improve your oral health:

  • They support gum and tooth health.
    Since less bad bacteria will be growing on your teeth and gums, probiotics will help to keep your teeth healthy. Mayo Clinic writes that high levels of bad bacteria can cause gum disease and tooth decay. 
  • They make your breath smell better.
    Stinky breath is caused by bad bacteria sitting in your mouth. Since probiotics don’t allow a lot of room for the bacteria that cause bad breath to grow, your mouth should smell a lot better.
  • They whiten your teeth over time.
    ProBiora3 probiotics from Evora produce low doses of hydrogen peroxide. Over time, these low doses gently whiten your teeth. Unlike other teeth whitening treatments, you won’t feel any sensitivity or gum irritation from this natural teeth whitening process.

Probiotics are an important addition to everyone’s dental health routine. Though they don’t replace brushing and flossing, probiotics do support these activities, making your teeth and gums even healthier. All you have to do is eat probiotics a few times a month to make a difference in your mouth.
If you’re interested in learning more about probiotics or purchasing them for the first time, speak to our dental experts at Water Tower Dental Care. We would love to help you pick the best type of probiotics for your teeth and gums and help you better understand how they make your smile look its best.

6 Unusual Teeth Tips Straight From Our Dentists

September 17th, 2015

6 Unusual Teeth Tips Straight From Our DentistsWhen it comes to taking care of our teeth, we generally hear the same kind of advice all of the time: brush and floss everyday and don’t eat too much candy. While this advice is extremely important, there are a lot of additional ways to keep your teeth healthy as well. We asked our dentists at Water Tower Dental Care to share some tips for taking care of your teeth that you probably haven’t heard before. Here are 6 unusual teeth tips straight from our dentists.

  1. Eat Cheese (In Moderation)

Believe it or not, cheese is good for your teeth! Like the peroxide-based teeth-whitening solutions we described earlier, cheese helps to neutralize acids in your mouth, increasing your pH levels for about 30 minutes, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. This means less bacteria breeding in your mouth and less teeth erosion. Cheese also causes salivation, which helps get rid harmful bacteria and food particles. Finally, cheese contains casein phosphate, which keeps your teeth strong. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you should eat all of the cheese that you possibly can. You only need about ⅓ of a slice to get these oral benefits.

  1. Whiten Your Teeth For Health & Cosmetic Reasons

While teeth whitening can make your teeth look better than ever, its benefits aren’t purely cosmetic. Teeth whitening can also help keep your teeth healthy by removing plaque and preventing tooth decay. Recent research has found that teeth whitening products that contain a peroxide-based solution can effectively get rid of plaque, reduce caries bacteria, and increase the pH level of your mouth, according to Professor Van B. Haywood.
When the pH level in your mouth becomes too low, this means that it is highly acidic. If your pH level is highly acidic, bacteria will begin to breed and your enamel will break down. Peroxide-based teeth-whitening solutions will neutralize your pH levels to a healthy 7 or 8, reducing the acidity in your mouth. This is especially helpful after you eat or drink highly acidic food, such as coffee, wine and citrus fruits. Ask us about our at-home teeth whitening kits to help your teeth look and feel healthier today!

  1. Keep Your Mouth Healthy With Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has a ton of health benefits, from decreasing cholesterol levels to helping diabetes. It turns out that coconut oil is great for your oral health too. Through a method called oil pulling, coconut oil can actually help pull bacteria off of your teeth for a healthier and cleaner smile. All you have to do is swish around a teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes. Of course, you should still keep up with your regular routine of brushing, flossing and using mouthwash.
If you’re questioning the validity of this claim, good for you. You shouldn’t believe everything you read on the Internet, especially when it comes to oral health. Thankfully, there are various studies, including the following three, that have proved that oil pulling effectively fights off bacteria: Study 1Study 2Study 3You can read more about oil pulling for your teeth here.

  1. Use Oral Probiotics For Your Mouth

In the past, probiotics were thought to only help digestive and immune health. But recently, probiotics designed specifically for oral health have been found to naturally support gum and tooth health, make your breath fresh and whiten your teeth. Effective probiotics trigger the production of healthy bacteria that work to keep your mouth and gums healthy. They also reduce the nutrients for bacteria that cause bad breath, and produce low doses of hydrogen peroxide to gently whiten your teeth. Learn more about oral probiotics from Evora.

  1. Don’t Use Your Teeth As Tools

While it may be more convenient to open that bag of chips with your teeth rather than finding scissors, using your teeth as tools can have serious (and expensive) consequences. Many of our patients have come in with broken, cracked or chipped teeth because they tried using their teeth to cut or open something. Your teeth are meant for chewing food in your mouth - Not for anything else. It’s not worth the pain or the price to fix your teeth.

  1. You Can Use A Reversal Agent for Mouth Numbing

Some patients avoid important dental procedures because of the irritating and sometimes damaging numbing sensation that they experience hours afterwards. While it’s great to be numb in the dentist’s chair, it’s not so great when you’re hungry a couple hours afterwards. At worst, some patients chew their lip and gums because they can’t feel what their teeth are doing. Many patients may drool and not be able to talk properly, smile, or eat and drink because their mouths are numb. Thankfully, at Water Tower Dental Care, we offer reversal agents for teeth numbing, so that you can return to feeling your mouth much faster, and avoid the painful and embarrassing after effects.
We hope these unusual tips from our dentists, along with your normal health routine, help you to make your teeth even healthier. If you would like any more tips, reach out to us on our Facebook page. We’re full of helpful and creative ways to keep your teeth looking and feeling as good as new!

Gum Discoloration Treatments for Black Gums and White Gums

May 28th, 2015

Gum Discoloration Treatments for Black Gums and White GumsIt can be pretty alarming to wake up and notice that your gums are getting darker. After all, they’re a huge part of your smile. Gum discoloration can be a natural occurrence, or they can be a sign of serious health problems that need to be addressed immediately. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to treat your discolored or black gums and get them looking healthy again, depending on the cause. Here are a few of the most common treatment options for gum discoloration.

Treatments for Dark or Black Gums

Nothing! Love Your Gums for Their Natural Color

Some people are born with naturally darker gums than others. It’s completely normal. Gum color varies just like skin color does. If you have a darker skin tone, it’s likely you have darker gums because your body produces more melanin. You don’t need any treatment - your gums are healthy and beautiful just the way they are!

Gum Disease Therapy

If your gums suddenly get darker or turn black over time, it’s likely you have a problem. One very serious issue that causes black discoloration is acute necrotizing periodontal disease, also known as black gum disease. When you have this disease, your gum tissue becomes black as it dies, or experiences necrosis. Along with a change in color, you may notice severe pain, a foul smell and bleeding gums. If you don’t treat black gum disease, it can spread to your cartilage and then your bone. Not good.

Your dentist can treat periodontal disease with gum disease therapy. A gum disease specialist will work on fixing damage to your gum tissue, teeth and bones with surgical and/or non-surgical procedures to alleviate infection and promote gum and tooth reattachment. The exact treatment will depend on the severity of gum disease.

Ask Your Doctor For Alternative Medications

Some types of medication are known to cause gum discoloration. These include minocycline, tricyclic antidepressants and metal-based crown fillings. Though they don’t necessarily harm your gums, they can cause areas of black or grey pigmentation, which doesn’t look to great. If your gums start changing color after you begin taking new medication, speak with your doctor to find out about the medication’s side effects. If gum discoloration is a known side effect, ask your doctor about alternative medications.

Put Out Your Cigarette Once and For All

Along with increasing your risk of getting gum disease, tooth discoloration, oral cancer and many other oral problems, the chemicals in cigarettes can cause gum discoloration. The best thing you can do for your mouth, both cosmetically and for its health, is to stop smoking once and for all. And don’t think e-cigarettes are good for your mouth either. When you stop smoking and vaping, you’re helping your mouth look and feel as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

Treatments for White Gums

Thrush Treatment

If you notice white discoloration in the form of lesions on your gums, you may have thrush. Thrush is a mouth infection caused by fungus. You might run into this problem if you’re stressed, get certain illnesses or take particular medications. Your dentist will provide treatment based on your age and the cause of the thrush. Many times, your dentist will just scrape the fungus from your gums and tell you how to prevent it from regrowing in the future. They may also refer you to a doctor for further treatment.

Leukoplakia Treatment

Another cause of white patches developing on your gums is leukoplakia, a precancerous condition that usually stems from smoking or alcohol consumption. Stopping both of those activities may completely take care of the patch. If that doesn’t work, your dentist may remove the patch with a scalpel, laser or freezing methods. This can help to reduce the risk of developing mouth cancer. If you have leukoplakia, it’s important to check in with your dentist regularly so they can monitor your condition.

Experiencing gum discoloration? Come on into Water Tower Dental Care, Chicago’s #1 general and cosmetic dentist! Our friendly staff will take a look at your gums to find out the cause of the change in color and the best treatment to fix it. You can meet our doctors before you come in here!

What Type of Dental Floss Should I Use?

April 23rd, 2015

What Type of Dental Floss Should I Use?When it comes to choosing dental floss, there are a lot of options out there. Picking the right type of floss will make your flossing experience easy, smooth, fast and effective. We here at Water Tower Dental Care are here to help break down all of the different choices so that you can choose the best floss for your teeth.

How Does Dental Floss Help You?

Floss takes care of the food, bacteria and plaque your toothbrush can’t reach. Unlike brushes, floss dislodges the plaque under your gum line and between your teeth. Without floss, this plaque builds up and can cause bad breath, cavities and gingivitis. Taking the time to floss once a day can save you a lot problems and money in the future.

Different Types of Floss

While some toothbrushes have proven to be more effective than others, all floss is generally equal. Choosing the right type of floss typically comes down to what works best for your teeth and what you like most. Check out the following different types of floss and their individual benefits to help you decide which one is best for you.

  • Unwaxed Floss: Basic floss that can fit in between very small spaces between your teeth. Though it can fit in tighter spaces, it is more likely to break or fray than waxed floss. Unwaxed floss may be best for people with teeth that are tightly spaced together.
  • Waxed Floss: Floss coated with wax to make it stronger and allow it to slide more easily between teeth. The wax coating can make it more difficult to use in between teeth that are very close to each other. Waxed floss may be best for people who have teeth that are normally or widely spaced apart.
  • Fluoride-Coated/Teflon Floss: Though not found to be any more effective than other types of floss, many people prefer fluoride-coated floss to wax floss because it slides quickly and easily between teeth. This type of floss may be best for people with closely spaced teeth.
  • Flavored Floss: All types of floss can come in a variety of different flavors, from mint to cupcake! Flavored floss not only makes flossing more enjoyable, but can also freshen up your breath.
  • Thickness: People with tightly spaced teeth will want to avoid thick floss, which may get stuck in between their teeth. Those with widely spaced teeth, on the other hand, will probably prefer thicker floss that covers more space.
  • Dental Tape (Tape Floss): Dental tape is broader and flatter than other types of floss. It slides smoothly between teeth, covers a large area and is difficult to break or fray. Dental tape may be best for those with widely spaced teeth and people who are new to flossing.
  • Super Floss: For those with braces, dental implants, or other types of dental work, super floss is a great option. Super floss is made up of three types of floss: stiffened-end threader, soft spongey floss and regular floss. The stiffened-end threader makes it easy to floss between teeth and dental appliances, such as braces. The larger spongey floss cleans around the appliances and is effective at flossing wide spaces. Finally, regular floss can be used to remove plaque normally between teeth.

Tools That Make Flossing Easier

Once you start flossing, you’ll get into a routine and realize how easy it is to keep at it. To make it even easier, you can use dental floss holders, floss wands, or power dental flossers (otherwise known as vibrating dental flossers). If you have problems gripping normal floss, these tools can help to make flossing more effective.

Flossing Alternatives

Some people use toothpicks, oral irrigators, mouthwash and other tools to replace flossing. Yet, using floss is still considered the most effective way to clean the spaces in between your teeth. You can always use other oral care products with floss, but make sure you continue flossing once a day to keep your mouth as healthy and clean as possible.
To make sure you’re using the best type of dental floss for your teeth, come on in to Water Tower Dental Care. Our dentists will help you choose floss that will most effectively and comfortably clean your mouth. Click here to request an appointment!

Dental Phobia: 8 Helpful Tips for Overcoming Your Fear of the Dentist

January 8th, 2015

Dental Phobia: 8 Helpful Tips for Overcoming Your Fear of the DentistMany people have serious phobias of doctors and dentists. Often it comes from past experiences that might not have gone over so well. Other times the fear lacks reason. Either way, there are ways to overcome the fear of the dentist so you can commit yourself to appointments and make sure your teeth are in great health.

The first step to overcoming your fear is to understand that it is a common issue. Popular culture often eludes and overcompensates the actual job of a dentist, giving him or her a crazed look and pliers too big for your mouth. It’s the wrong image of what are actually, caring and gentle doctors that want to help and make you feel comfortable in the dentist’s chair. Once you lose that mentality and understand that a dentist will be as gentle as possible, then you can already start to feel a little safer. Here are eight tips to help make visiting the dentist relaxing and lose your fear of the dentist.

Make an Appointment at a Stress-Free Time

Stress is a major factor that can make your fear of the dentist escalate. Find a date for an appointment that isn’t surrounded with other stressful activities. Consider taking the day off of work, or scheduling around a slower time of the month. Making an appointment during the holiday season or a day before you leave for a European vacation is not the best time for your stress and fear.

Don’t Arrive Too Early

Sitting in a crowded waiting room listening to ominous sounds coming from the dentist’s chair will not help your fear. Try to arrive close to the time of your appointment so you don’t need to spend as much time waiting. It can also help to bring a friend or loved one with you that can sit with you in the waiting room and offer their support.

Have a Conversation With Your Dentist

The best way to alleviate the fear of an “evil” dentist is to talk to them and trust them. This doesn’t need to include a step by step breakdown of what the dentist will be doing to your teeth, but rather, a casual conversation about your day, catching up on a story or two to help you feel comfortable. As well, don’t feel shy about telling your dentist that you have some fears about sitting in the dentist’s chair. Your doctor should be able to help you relax and reassure you that there is nothing to fear.

Bring a Stress Ball

This is a simple way to alleviate fear once you sit down. Squeezing on a stress ball will release your stress and keep you from concentrating too hard on the dentist’s actions.

Bring Headphones

Consider listening to music while in the dentist’s chair. Bring headphones and put on music that relaxes you. This will help keep your mind off of what’s happening.

Practice Meditation Techniques

It helps to practice the techniques that make meditation so relaxing. This includes deep-breathing exercises, clearing the mind, keeping your eyes closed, and focusing on positive energy. This will be especially helpful if you practice beforehand.

Discuss the Procedures With Your Doctor

If you can handle it, talk to your doctor about what exactly is going to happen during the procedure that is being performed. Often, the mind can exaggerate the intensity of the procedure and make it much worse than it actually is.

Talk to Your Dentist About Sedation

If the methods above don’t work for you and you still need a way of coping with the dentist, you can talk to your dentist about sedation techniques that will keep you from feeling anything during your visit. Unless your visit includes a serious surgery, we suggest avoiding this method, as it’s not a long-lasting solution.
Most importantly, it is best to understand that there is nothing to fear about the dentist. At Water Tower Dental Care, our dentists and technicians are caring and highly-trained professionals using the most current and safest technologies available. One visit to our offices and you’ll see, there’s nothing to be worried about. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact Water Tower Dental, voted Chicago’s #1 Dentistry.

Dental Health Tips for the Holiday Season

December 18th, 2014

Dental Health Tips for the Holiday SeasonWe all love the holidays, but it’s important to be aware of your oral health during these festive times. Taking care of your teeth and gums during the holidays is simple. All it includes is avoiding a few nasty habits and being aware of the treats that can be most harmful to your teeth. Here are our four dental health tips for the holiday season.

Be Careful of the Sugary Treats

The holidays are often filled with candy canes, peanut brittle, sweet chocolate, and fruitcake. All of these treats can be very harmful for your teeth. Chewy and hard candy alike can get stuck in your teeth, pull out fillings, and even fracture more sensitive teeth. Most of these sweet treats are best avoided throughout the season.
Of course, we know that’s near impossible, so don’t fret. Just drink lots of water after eating any of these sugary sweets. Why? Well, the worst proponent of these snacks is the sugar. However, sugar is much less harmful when it’s not feeding the bacteria in your teeth. Washing out your mouth with water will help keep your teeth safe from sugar.

Let the Nutcrackers do their Job

Nothing is worse during the holiday season than a fractured tooth. It means you can’t eat all of those delicious meals, and because most dentists are off on holidays, you may not be able to receive medical attention for a day or two. With that in mind, never use your teeth to crack a nut. While grandpa might tell you, “that’s how they did it in the war,” you’re living in a townhouse in the suburbs. Your aunt’s collection of nutcrackers will do a much better job than your teeth, not to mention keep your teeth safe.

Keep Scissors Handy to Open Those Packages

Everyone receives a few gifts during the holidays. As excited as you are to see what your friends or family gave you, we suggest avoiding using your teeth to tear open that package. Instead employ a pair of scissors. They’re easier to use than your teeth, and will allow you to avoid the risk of chipping your front teeth or pulling on teeth that needn’t be pulled.

Avoid Stressful Situations

We understand that the holidays can get hectic. Family is visiting, there are a dozen things on your “To Do” list, and you’re always one hour short of time. That’s okay, it’s the holidays, and no one will be too upset if things go a little wrong. After all, you’re with people that love you.
Those who stress out do two things: they bite their nails and they grind their teeth. Both of these habits can wear down the enamel of your teeth and make you more prone to cavities. As well, biting your nails lets germs and bacteria that were stuck in your fingers into your mouth. This can harm your teeth more than you know. Instead, take a breath every so often. Enjoy a cup of tea (which can help the teeth), and remember, no matter what, things will be okay.
Remember, the holidays are about having fun and seeing friends and family. The best advice for the holidays is to make sure to brush and floss on your regular schedule. Drinks lots of water to wash out the food particles between meals, and have a great time!

Should I Use Mouthwash Before or After Brushing My Teeth?

November 20th, 2014

Woman using mouthwash Using mouthwash correctly may not seem like a hard task, but if you are concerned with properly caring for your teeth and gums, it’s important to understand how to maximize the effectiveness of your mouthwash. One of the hardest questions to answer concerning mouthwash is if you should use it before or after brushing your teeth. Unfortunately there’s no definite answer, because it depends on what you’re aiming for with your mouthwash and how you want it to affect your mouth. That said, there is no wrong answer, if you use mouthwash before, after, or both you’re doing a much better job than not using mouthwash at all.

To decide if you want to use your mouthwash before or after your brushing, it’s first best to understand exactly what mouthwash can do for you. Its main purpose is to help kill bad bacteria in your mouth and loosen/flush out particles and plaque that are in the mouth.
When choosing a mouthwash, there’s not many you can go wrong with. Mouthwashes are often made very similarly, with the biggest difference being flavor and extra offerings, such as making your teeth whiter. However, many mouthwashes contain alcohol, which is less desirable than an alcohol-free mouthwash. Don’t get is wrong, a mouthwash with alcohol as an ingredient can still do wonders, however it can dry out your mouth. This can lower the production of saliva, which is the mouth’s natural defense against bad bacteria.
We recommend finding a mouthwash that is free of alcohol. Or, if you have a mouthwash with alcohol, try diluting it with water. A 20 to 70 ratio of water to mouthwash can work just fine at helping lessen the effects of the alcohol without making your mouthwash less effective.
Choosing when to use your mouthwash, now that you have chosen the mouthwash for you, is again up to you.

Using Mouthwash Before Brushing

If you use your mouthwash before brushing, the mouthwash has a good chance of breaking up a lot of the plaque and particles in your mouth making it easier for your toothbrush to get to the harder spots of the mouth and teeth and really scrub away plaque. This is similar to how you might rinse off your dirty dishes after dinner before placing them in the dishwasher.

Using Mouthwash After Brushing

If before brushing is similar to rinsing your dishes, after brushing is similar to soaking your dishes in diluted bleach water after they’re clean. Your mouthwash is making sure all of the scrubbed off residue and plaque is out of the mouth. And, if you choose to not rinse out your mouth after, is helping disinfect for a longer amount of time.

Using Mouthwash Both Before and After Brushing

For the over-achievers, rinsing both before and after you brush your teeth might be the best option. You’re loosening particles and plaque before and making sure they’re completely free of particles after. All the while killing as much bacteria as possible.
It’s really up to you on how you choose to use your mouthwash. According to a BreathMD poll, most people like to choose after brushing to use their mouthwash. However, that doesn’t make either way right or wrong.
 

Electric Toothbrush Vs. Manual Toothbrush: Which is Better?

November 6th, 2014

Electric Toothbrush Vs. Manual Toothbrush: Which is Better?When it comes to choosing a toothbrush, you definitely have some options. A pharmacy often dedicates a whole aisle to toothbrushes, giving you a long list of choices. One of the hardest decisions when choosing a toothbrush can be between a manual toothbrush and an electric toothbrush. Many question between a manual and an electric toothbrush, which is better? However, the answer isn’t necessarily which is better, but which is right for you. Though electric toothbrushes technically clean your teeth more effectively, they may not be right for everyone.

For decades, the manual toothbrush was the common standard for oral healthcare. The modern manual toothbrush, made of nylon bristles, was developed and introduced in the 1930s by the DuPont Company. For most consumers, that is the toothbrush they have known their whole life. Though there may have been some advancements in the manual nylon toothbrush, the design has remained relatively the same since it was introduced.
In the 1990s, the electric toothbrush was introduced to the market. The head of the toothbrush is driven by motor to oscillate or rotate. This gives the brusher a consistent pressure against the teeth. Many electric toothbrushes also come with timers that stop after two minutes and pressure monitors: if you’re pressing too hard against your teeth, the toothbrush will stop. Both have advantages and disadvantages that we will categorize below.

Ease of Use

A Manual Toothbrush is quite simple to use and most of us have used one for our entire lives. With two minutes of brushing, you can effectively clean your teeth. If you do this at least twice a day, you should guarantee yourself a lifetime of bright smiles. However, it does take a little extra effort to brush properly and ensure you’re removing plaque off of all your teeth.
With an Electric Toothbrush, there is significantly less work in ensuring removal of plaque. You still need to brush for two minutes, at least twice a day, but the consistent pressure of the motorized bristles makes the electric toothbrush easier to use. Studies have pointed to showing that electric toothbrushes do a better job of removing plaque on the teeth. However, with that said, both a manual and electric are fine for getting the job done.

Toothbrush Variety

Manual toothbrushes come in a long list of varieties from soft bristles to angled necks to fun patterns on the handle. If you like to switch up the look of your toothbrush, it’s a simple way to do that.
An electric toothbrush is a little harder to switch up. Once you decide on a kind of toothbrush, you don’t want to go switching between other brands. You need to stick with what your electric toothbrush provides in the case of bristles, colors, etc.

Toothbrush Cost

Manual toothbrushes are much less expensive than electric toothbrushes. If you visit a dentist every six months, they often give you a free toothbrush at the end of your visit. You need to replace a toothbrush about every three months, but that is still much less expensive than an electric.
Electric toothbrushes cost about three times as much as a manual toothbrush. Along with that initial cost, you need to consider the cost of new bristle heads and the cost of charging the toothbrush. Whether that means plugging in a charger and using electricity or replacing batteries on the toothbrush every few months. The money adds up.

Travel

Manual toothbrushes are easy to travel with. They can easily fit into a toiletry bag and you won’t need to risk breaking them on your trip.
An electric toothbrush is a little harder to take around with you. They tend to be bulky. If you plan to bring the charger for the toothbrush with you, there’s a considerable amount of room being used to pack your toothbrush.

Toothbrush Durability

You probably won’t have to worry too much about breaking your manual toothbrush. They’re quite sturdy. Even if you do break it, it’s not too hard to replace one.
An electric toothbrush must be treated with care. If dropped, the mechanisms that make the bristles move can break and malfunction, making your electric toothbrush useless. Be careful when using one.

Conclusion: Electric Toothbrush vs. Manual Toothbrush

While both manual and electric toothbrushes have their pros and cons, it’s truly up to the consumer to decide which one is right for them. Some prefer the feel of a manual while others the electric. Some don’t have the money to spend on an electric toothbrush, especially when a manual toothbrush can sufficiently clean your teeth. An electric does do an overall better job at cleaning your teeth, but may not be the best option for a variety of reasons, including if you travel a lot.
If it’s convenient for you, we recommend investing in an electric toothbrush, as it has proven to clean your teeth better than a manual toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes are also great for kids because children tend to think they are fun to use and don’t have to put in much effort.
Whichever you choose, make it your goal to brush at least twice a day along with flossing and mouthwash. If you stay consistent, whatever toothbrush you choose will get the job done.
 
 

Common Dental Issues for Seniors and Tips to Help Prevent Them

October 9th, 2014

Common Dental Issues for Seniors and Tips to Help Prevent ThemAs a senior, it’s even more imperative to practice good oral hygiene. As the body ages, more issues can arise that create problems with the gums and teeth. However, by following some simple oral hygiene tips and visiting your dentist on a regular basis, seniors can help keep their teeth healthy for longer and shining bright.
There are a few problems that most seniors should be aware of and do their best to prevent.

Gum Disease

All seniors (and non-seniors) should be aware and ready to fight gum disease. As a senior, you have an even higher risk of developing gum disease when dentures or bridges are being used.

Darkened Teeth

Even with the best oral hygiene, a lifetime of consuming foods and beverages that can stain your teeth or harm your enamel will have a negative effect on your teeth. While there are preventative steps you can take, darkened teeth can be harder to battle when you are older. Aim to keep teeth white and clean for as long as possible.

Less Taste

Diseases, medications, and dentures can all attribute to a diminished sense of taste. This is something to talk to your dentist about if it becomes a concern.

Tooth Loss

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. If you are experiencing loose teeth, inflamed gums, or bleeding gums, consult your dentist immediately.

Dry Mouth

There are many cases of dry mouth with seniors. Much of this is due to medications with side effects that include dry mouth. This can cause bacteria and food particles to not be properly flushed out of the mouth.  If you are experiencing a dry mouth, drink plenty of water, apply lip moisturizer frequently, and avoid salty foods.

Stomatitis Induced by Dentures

If one uses ill-fitting dentures, a buildup of the fungus Candida albicans can cause inflamed tissue underneath the denture. Consult a dentist if you are experiencing this problem.

Root Decay

If gums recede and the bottom of your teeth is exposed to bacteria and acids, the root of the tooth can eventually become harmed and begin to decay. Often the solution is to crown that part of the tooth to help protect it from further damage.

Best Solutions to These Dental Issues for Seniors

Most importantly, to avoid all of these issues and more, the best solution is to practice good oral hygiene. For a senior that means:

Brushing at Least Twice a Day 

Seniors should brush in the morning and night along with trying to brush after meals. If you cannot brush after a certain meal, make sure to drink lots of water to help flush out any acids, bacteria, and food particles left in your mouth.

 Flossing Once a Day

The best defense against gum disease is proper flossing once a day. Flossing does not need to be done more than that as it can begin to harm the gums. Once a day is best for helping clear out the pockets within the gums of food and bacteria.

Non-Alcoholic Mouthwash

Use a mouthwash if you find your teeth sensitive or flossing very difficult. Non-alcoholic will keep the mouth from drying out as well.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

While it’s important to visit your dentist every six months, if you are having issues or concerns, it may be best to visit them more often. Prevention is the best way to have healthy teeth for a lifetime.
 
 

8 Tips for Taking Care of Your Mouth at Home After Wisdom Teeth Removal

September 25th, 2014

Tips for Taking Care of Your Mouth at Home After Wisdom Teeth RemovalIt’s important to take very good care of our mouth after your wisdom teeth are removed. The better care you give it, the faster your mouth can heal and the less risk there is of infection. Before you head home, your oral surgeon should help prepare you for the next few weeks of care with prescribed painkillers and extra gauze. Sometimes, antibiotics are prescribed.

Once home however, it is up to you and a friend or loved one to help you keep your teeth on the path to healing. Here are our tips for taking care of your mouth at home after your wisdom teeth are removed.

Add Gauze

First, make sure to have a large supply of gauze to help keep the sore area from bleeding. Gently remove gauze every 30 to 45 minutes, replacing it with a new piece of gauze until bleeding subsides. Although the blood should clot within the first 48 hours, sometimes the clot can break and you’ll need to re-apply gauze.

Stay Hygienic

It is important to avoid infection and keep your mouth clean. The night after surgery, try brushing your teeth softly. Avoid the surgical sites with your brush.

Salt Water Rinse

To help clean out the surgical site, use a saltwater rinse (1 tbsp of salt for 1 cup of warm water). Do not spit out water, as it can break clots, rather let it drip into the sink slowly. Try to rinse two to three times a day, especially after meals.

Take Care of Bleeding

Be aware that bleeding will occur, on and off, for up to 48 hours. While it may look like a lot of blood, keep in mind that most of the blood is mixing with your saliva, making it look much more severe than it actually is. Use gauze to prevent bleeding, apply pressure with gauze, and readjust if bleeding persists.

Minimize Swelling

Swelling will happen to help soften the pain. Your mouth will be most swollen around the two to three day mark. If you would like to minimize swelling, apply an ice pack on the outside of the cheek against the swollen area.

Use Prescribed Painkillers

With the removal of wisdom teeth, you should receive a prescription painkiller that will relieve most of the discomfort. It is advised to take the painkiller before the anesthetic wears off, this will help prevent pain before it starts.

Eat Right

Do your best to take in nutritional foods that are easy to eat. Soft foods such as yogurt, fruit smoothies, and mashed potatoes are best for the first few days. Do not use a straw the first few days as the suction can break blood clots. Slowly integrate simple solid foods into your diet, but avoid smaller foods such as rice, nuts, and popcorn, which can become lodged in the gum’s pockets.
It is important to eat three healthy meals a day after surgery. Your body needs the nourishment, and it will help you feel better and heal faster.

Communicate With Your Doctor

Stay in touch with your dentist if pain persists or you experience a high level of discomfort. Your doctor can either reassure you that this is the normal process, or help guide you to feeling better.
Getting your wisdom teeth removed is no walk in the park, but it can drastically help lower your risk of gum disease and infection. If you would like any more information on wisdom teeth removal, contact your dentist.

What to Look For in Your Toothbrush

September 18th, 2014

What to Look For in Your ToothbrushHow often do you find yourself standing in the aisle of your local pharmacy scanning an entire wall of toothbrushes? How do you know which toothbrush to choose? When looking for the right toothbrush, there are some factors you should consider and others you can completely ignore. Here are our top suggestions for finding the best toothbrush for you.

Size

The size of your toothbrush should coincide with the size of your mouth. Many people with smaller mouths don’t realize that a toothbrush with too large of head can make it very difficult and uncomfortable for them to brush their teeth, especially when trying to reach those back molars. For a person with a larger mouth, however, a smaller toothbrush head could make it difficult to reach and cover all teeth.
The best way to determine a good head size for your toothbrush is simple trial and error. If you’re replacing your toothbrush and aren’t happy with its size, try a smaller or bigger toothbrush, depending on the size you have now (i.e. change big from small, or vice versa). You may be surprised to find out how much the size of your toothbrush can improve your brushing experience.

Bristle Strength

While you may not think about bristle strength at all, or think that tough bristles are the best way to scrub your teeth clean, bristle strength is actually a major factor in choosing a toothbrush. Often, that means choosing softer bristles.
The reason softer bristles are sometimes a better choice is that they are easier on your gums. While your teeth may be able to handle tough bristles, your gums can be damaged very easily by harsh brushing. It’s better to consider a medium bristle strength toothbrush to use. There are also soft bristle toothbrushes, however you should only use those if your dentist recommends it.

The Toothbrush's Handle

Bright colors or a translucent handle might look fun, but they have very little to do with what toothbrush you should buy. When considering the handle, make sure the neck reaches long enough so that you can easily brush your back teeth. The neck should also be slightly angled from the handle. Notice the grip on the handle too. A cushioned, non-slip surface works well for people with arthritis and those with a bad grip.

Cost

You’re probably surprised by the range of costs every time you go to buy a toothbrush (especially the high-priced toothbrushes). Don’t be fooled into thinking the most expensive toothbrush is also your best option. While they may look shiny and new with bright colors and a curved handle, most expensive toothbrushes won’t do much more than a cheaper toothbrush that works for your mouth. In fact, an expensive toothbrush could be less effective depending on the needs of your teeth and gums. It’s better to consider the above options and find a toothbrush that works for you.

Electric Toothbrushes Are the Best Option

Though there are many toothbrush options out there, electric toothbrushes are by far the most efficient at cleaning your teeth. The pulsations from the brush break up plaque much better than manual scrubbing does, and their advanced designs allow for easier access to hard-to-reach areas, such as the backs of molars and gum lines. Many electric toothbrushes, such as SoniCare, also have built in timers to ensure that you’re brushing for as long as you need to. We highly recommend that you invest in an electric toothbrush.
When considering these factors while buying a toothbrush, that big selection of toothbrushes in the pharmacy aisle becomes a lot smaller and easier to handle. If you have any more questions on how you should pick your toothbrush, or would like a dentist to recommend the right toothbrush for you, stop by Water Tower Dental. We can sit you down for a routine check-up and help you determine the path to a brighter, whiter smile.
 
 

6 Steps to Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Cavity Free

September 11th, 2014

Stepts to Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Cavity FreeCaring for your child’s teeth at an early age and following important guidelines can help prevent cavities. Even a child’s baby teeth can develop cavities, which can be a painful nuisance. Here are six simple ways to help prevent cavities from developing in your children’s teeth.

  1. Keep Their Fingers Out Of Their Mouth

Try to prevent your child from putting their fingers in their mouth when you can. After putting their hands on things such as the floor, toys, food and other children, a baby’s fingers can transmit unwanted bacteria into their mouths. Of course, completely keeping your child’s fingers out of their mouth is almost impossible to do, as younger children tend to put many things in their mouths. However, even a small amount of prevention can go a long way.

  1. Not Sharing is Caring

Try to avoid giving germs to your child by not sharing utensils, straws, cups, bites of food, toothbrushes and other items like these with them. An adult’s mouth can often have more germs than a child’s body has learned to fight. A young person’s mouth will experience harsher consequences as a result of the germs you may share with them. So try and stop the passing of bacteria by keeping your germs to yourself.

  1. Start Brushing Early

Once your child first begins developing teeth, it’s important to keep them clean by regularly brushing them. Purchase a Baby’s First Toothbrush, which is smaller and has softer bristles. Then, you can use a very small amount of children’s toothpaste and brush your child’s teeth after meals. This can go a long way in preventing cavities in baby teeth.

  1. Avoid Sugars

Try to keep your children away from sugary drinks and snacks that will feed the bacteria in their mouth. You can’t avoid all sugar, of course, so it’s good to know some helpful tips to reduce the risk that sugary food and drink will cause cavities. Try not to give your child a sugary drink or snack before a nap or bedtime. It’s best to give your child lots of water after a sugary snack as well to help wash away the sugars left in the mouth.

  1. Clean Right

Many parents wipe off their children’s pacifiers by using their own saliva or clean off a spoon by licking off the food. This is an easy way for bacteria to transfer from their mouth to their children’s. If you need to clean a utensil or pacifier, wash it under the faucet and use a sanitized towel before giving it back to your child.

  1. Visit the Dentist

You shouldn’t only visit your dentist when you need a tooth repaired. Dentists can also help to prevent any cavities and damage to the teeth that may be looming on the horizon, so it’s good to visit them regularly even if your child isn’t experiencing any problems. Bringing your child to the dentist at a young age will help keep their teeth clean and help keep cavities at bay.
By following these simple steps and taking action when needed, your child can grow up to have a healthy and bright smile. Most importantly, by practicing good oral hygiene, your child will learn the proper steps to take care of their teeth for years to come. And remember, leading by example is the best way to help show your child how to treat their teeth well.
If you have any more questions on how to prevent cavities in your child’s teeth, contact Water Tower Dental. We’d be happy to help answer any questions you need.
 

How to Take Proper Care of Your Toothbrush

August 21st, 2014

How to Take Proper Care of ToothbrushWhen it comes to your toothbrush, keeping it clean, dry, and out of the mouths of others is very important. It’s almost as important as keeping your teeth clean. Not many know exactly how to care for their toothbrush. We’re here to answer a handful of common questions about storing, cleaning, and keeping your toothbrush hygienic.

How Long Should I Use My Toothbrush?

As much as you might love the feel of a certain brush, you should replace your toothbrush every three to four months, if not sooner. Over time, the bristles of a toothbrush can become worn and frayed. When that happens, they’re less effective at cleaning your teeth. Think of a sponge you use to clean dishes, or a broom you use to sweep the floor. Over time, they don’t work as well as they used to. Your toothbrush is just the same. If you want to do the best job possible of keeping plaque off of your teeth, replace your toothbrush when the time comes.

Where Should I Keep My Toothbrush?

It’s tricky to know exactly where you should place your toothbrush, but here are a few tips:

  • Avoid Keeping It In a Drawer/Cabinet
    When you place your toothbrush in a cabinet, it has a harder time drying out, allowing for bacteria to build. You should try to keep your toothbrush somewhere that has quality airflow.
  • Avoid Keeping It Near The Toilet or Sink
    When you flush a toilet, bacteria becomes airborne and can travel much farther than most think. To keep harmful bacteria from the sink and toilet from reaching your toothbrush, try to store them a safe distance away. Another safe tip is to always close the lid to your toilet before flushing. This will help keep the icky where it belongs!
  • A High Shelf
    If kept in your bathroom, try to put your toothbrush on a high shelf away from the toilet and sink, but still in the open air. Set it upright for to allow it to dry faster.

Can I Share My Toothbrush?

Though it may seem harmless, you should always avoid sharing your toothbrush with others. It is very easy to transfer germs, bacteria, and harmful illnesses such as the flu or hepatitis through your toothbrush.

How Should I Clean My Toothbrush?

The best way to clean your toothbrush is by rinsing it with water once you’ve finished brushing. Take it slow and make sure that all food and debris are cleared before putting your toothbrush away. Don’t try any experimental methods like putting your toothbrush in the dishwasher or microwave. This will only cause damage to the toothbrush and will not necessarily disinfect it.
Following these simple tips will help keep your toothbrush in great shape so that it can do its best job possible in keeping your teeth and gums clean for months. If you have more questions about how to care for your toothbrush or your teeth, contact Water Tower Dental. We’d be happy to help.
 
 

How to Choose the Right Toothpaste for You

July 17th, 2014

Choose the Right Toothpaste for YouThere are a few factors to consider when it comes to finding toothpaste that works for you. Mainly, does it have the effective ingredients to help fight plaque build-up and tooth decay? Once you have determined that, you will want to choose from a variety of toothpastes that can help in specific ways depending on what kind of cleaning you’re looking for.

Most toothpaste has a basic set of components that makes them what they are. First, abrasive agents that help remove food and bacteria from your teeth. These are typically ingredients such as calcium carbonate. Thickeners are added to tooth pastes to add a thicker volume to the paste, which helps maintain a consumer-expected texture. For moisture retention, humectants are added, which keep the toothpaste from drying out. Detergents help make your toothpaste foam when brushing by using ingredients like sodium laurel sulfate. And, of course, flavoring is added to toothpastes with artificial sweeteners to make brushing your teeth a more enjoyable experience.
You will most likely find some kind of variation of these basic ingredients in most toothpaste. They are the essential makeup that makes toothpaste what it is.
The most essential toothpaste ingredient, however, is fluoride. For the past 50 years, fluoride has helped to significantly lower tooth decay and cavities. A naturally occurring mineral, fluoride helps protect your teeth by making your tooth enamel stronger and helping reverse the damage that occurs from bacteria acids breaking down teeth. It is essential to use toothpaste with fluoride, as it’s the number one ingredient to help protect your teeth.
Most toothpaste in the dental aisle of your local pharmacy or grocery store will contain these ingredients. But you’ve probably noticed dozens of different toothpastes in your pharmacy. That’s because many toothpastes offer additional help specific to a certain problem.
There is toothpaste that is specific to tartar control. This toothpaste helps remove the buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth. When plaque isn’t removed properly, it hardens and turns into tartar. These toothpastes use ingredients such as pyrophosphates and zinc citrate to break down plaque and tartar before it becomes a bigger issue.
There are also toothpastes for Sensitive Teeth. Many people have trouble with consuming hot or cold liquids and chewing hard foods. This is because they have nerve endings that are more sensitive than other mouths. With the help of potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, these toothpastes help by blocking pathways to the nerves that are attached to the teeth.
Whitening toothpastes are also available. These toothpastes offer additional abrasives that can help scrub away stains and bring your teeth back to their original whiteness.
When choosing toothpaste, you should always look for the ADA approval. The American Dental Association has been working hard for years to ensure that the toothpastes they approve are safe and contain ingredients that will protect your teeth.
If you have more questions about which toothpastes are best for your teeth, contact Water Tower Dental. With a simple checkup we can determine the key weakness to your oral hygiene and recommend several options to help bring your smile to its brightest potential.

Practices to Help Maintain Gums

July 14th, 2014

Practices to help maintain gumsOne of the toughest issues when it comes to oral care is keeping your gums healthy. Throughout the years, you may have noticed that your gums can start to recede, moving farther down and revealing more of your teeth. This can be due to genetics or harmful bacteria and plaque that build up and weaken your gums. It can also be a form of gum disease that will result in sore gums, redness, and eventually bleeding.
To help save your gums and keep them healthy, here a few practices that Water Tower Dental recommends:

Brushing and Flossing regularly

Believe it or not, this is the easiest way to help maintain gums. Try brushing after every meal and flossing once a day to help keep your mouth clear of plaque and unwanted food. But also realize that you can brush and floss too much. Your mouth needs time to balance its own natural chemistry, so keep to a good schedule and don’t overdo it. Flossing is not necessary more than once a day. And don’t think you need to brush after every time you eat food. It’s good to brush after larger meals, but small snacks throughout the day can be washed away with a glass of water and your body’s natural saliva distribution.

Use Mouthwash

Along with brushing and flossing, using a strong mouthwash once a day can also help kill unwanted bacteria and keep your mouth feeling fresh. Mouthwash is great for stopping plaque growth in areas where the toothbrush or even floss can’t reach.

Eat Probiotics

We reported before on how probiotics can help your teeth. Eating them a few times a month can actually help maintain your gums too. Probiotics are a collection of good bacteria. When you eat them, you replace areas where bad bacteria can live with bacteria that helps your mouth. Eating probiotics a few times a month will help keep your mouth’s chemistry regulated and healthy.

Keep Juices, Coffee, and Acidic Drinks to Meal Time

When trying to keep your gums at a strong level, you need to avoid some of the more harmful substances to your teeth. Acidic drinks, such as high-sugar juices, soda, and coffee, can ultimately do bad damage to your teeth and gums. However, they are most harmful when they’re consumed alone. This is the best time for the acidic elements to move around your mouth. During a mealtime though, much of your food can soak up the acidic juice and keep it from causing too much harm. Also, when you eat, your mouth naturally salivates, which helps wash away food bits and the juice

Take Vitamin C and D

Both vitamins are great for oral health. Vitamin C contains antioxidants that help replace connective tissues and accelerate bone regeneration. Vitamin D has been known to have anti-inflammatory effects and can help reduce your gums’ chance of developing periodontal disease.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

And last, a terrific way to help keep your teeth clean and maintain your gums is by consulting and working with your dentist to find practices that will work for you. Also, an oral cleaning from the dentist is an amazing way to start a strong regiment against gum decay and periodontal disease.
If you’re having trouble with receding gums or suspect you have periodontal disease, do not hesitate to call Water Tower Dental. We can help you find the right track to a healthier lifestyle that will repair your gums and make your smile shine. For more questions, contact Water Tower Dental today.
 

The Effects of E-Cigarettes on Your Mouth

July 3rd, 2014

effects-of-e-cigarettes-on-your-mouthThere is a lot of stir about the introduction of e-cigarettes and unknown health issues that they may cause. For the mouth, e-cigarettes seem to have some positives and negatives. It is a better option than regular tobacco cigarettes, but worse than not smoking altogether. Here are a few of the effects of e-cigarettes on the mouth.

Unfortunately, research on e-cigarettes is still very minimal. Because they are a new product, research that can space several decades is still unavailable. However, there are several chemicals and clues that help determine what e-cigarettes can do to the teeth.
Just like any cigarette, the main purpose of an e-cigarette is to inhale nicotine. Studies have shown that nicotine can slow down the production of saliva in the mouth. The more nicotine you intake, the less saliva the body is able to produce. Saliva is a main deterrent to harmful bacteria and food particles in the mouth. Low saliva levels can cause quicker tooth decay, sore gums, and eventually a loosening of the teeth. One positive of smoking e-cigarettes verses normal cigarettes is that you can control the amount of nicotine the e-cigarette will release into the body. This will slow down the eventual effect of lowered saliva levels, at least.
Another effect of nicotine in an e-cigarette or a tobacco cigarette is it acts as a vasoconstrictor, which prohibits blood flow to the mouth. This results in a fewer number of white blood cells capable of fending off infections and bacteria that harm your gums. Fewer red blood cells are also sent to your mouth tissues, which lead to faster deterioration of the tissue and your teeth.
Another concern for e-cigarettes is that they contain diethylene glycol, a highly toxic substance. However, at the current point in research, scientists have not determined how much of the substance is needed to be considered harmful to the body, especially seeing e-cigarettes use a very low amount.
There are a few positives to using e-cigarettes, though they do not outweigh the negatives. For example, e-cigarettes use ingredients such as glycerin and propylene glycol. These are two chemicals are used in toothpaste to help prevent water loss in the paste. The chemicals in e-cigarettes can actually create a coating over the teeth’s surface that can prevent teeth from drying up as well as help kill certain bacteria in the mouth.

What E-Cigarettes Won’t Do (Verses Tobacco Cigarettes)

Compared to tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes do have the upper hand. Unlike tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes don’t cause a few of the more unpleasant side effects that are caused by tobacco.
Tobacco cigarettes can cause yellowing of teeth. E-cigarettes, however, do not cause this problem. They do not include the harmful chemicals that cause the discoloring.
When your mouth is sore, either from biting your lip or a serious mouth surgery, smoking tobacco cigarettes causes healing to become a longer, more prolonged process. E-cigarettes do not have the same effect on the healing process, which makes it easier to smoke after a surgery or injury.
Also, e-cigarettes are made from water vapor and nicotine, so the usual after-smell and taste that comes with a tobacco cigarette is completely diminished. E-cigarettes are also sold in flavors such as vanilla and mint, which leave a pleasant after-taste for you and those you are close to.
While we don’t encourage any of our patients or readers to start using e-cigarettes, we do believe it may be a smart way to slowly wean off of and eventually quit smoking. While it is still harmful to your mouth, research so far has shown that it does not seem to be as harmful as tobacco cigarettes. However, as we said before, time will be the true determinant for the e-cigarette.
If you have more questions on e-cigarettes and the effect they have on your teeth and mouth, contact Water Tower Dental today. We would be happy to answer all of your questions.

Pregnancy and Oral Health

May 15th, 2014

pregnancy and dental healthThere are many side effects to pregnancy. We all have heard of morning sickness or the late night cravings that some women can get. However, pregnancies can also bring another change in a woman’s body: a heightened risk of gingivitis.
Some women will notice between the second and eighth month of pregnancy that their gums can become inflamed, redder, and bleed when brushing their teeth. This is often referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis” and typically settles down after the mother gives birth.

There are several reasons why pregnant women may experience an upsurge of gingivitis symptoms. One reason is that pregnant women receive an increased level of the hormone progesterone, a hormone specific to helping gestation. This hormone, however, can enhance the growth of bacteria that can cause gingivitis. Secondly, because the woman’s body is experiencing so many changes, the immune system has to recalibrate and focus on new concerns with the body. Much of that concern is taken away from the gums and the bacteria that can cause gingivitis.
To avoid irritated and inflamed gums from gingivitis, Water Tower Dental recommends a solid routine of proper oral hygiene. This includes brushing at least twice a day for two or more minutes, flossing, and using an antimicrobial mouthwash. We also recommend a healthy diet of fresh fruit and vegetables that can help keep your mouth salivating and washing away any bad bacteria. Make sure to talk to your doctor about proper diet techniques, specific to you, that can help keep your mouth and gums stay healthy.
While the gums are usually of biggest concern during a pregnancy, there are other potential issues that can arise. Some pregnant women often experience an increase in cavities due to more adventurous snacking, especially at nighttime when saliva production is low. Often the snacking can occur after the woman has brushed her teeth, which then leaves potential for bacteria growth as plaque and tartar build through the night.
Another concern for pregnant women is that often acid erosion can make teeth, gums, and lips sore. Vomiting that’s associated with morning sickness and acid reflux causes this. However both of these concerns are much less severe than the amount of pregnant women who can experience gingivitis.
It’s wise to continue to have regular dental check ups during a pregnancy, especially if you’re experiencing inflamed, red gums. Often a detailed cleaning by a professional technician can help reduce the effects of gingivitis and in some cases, completely stop the bacteria in its tracks. If you have any concerns about your gums and oral hygiene during your pregnancy, do not hesitate to contact Water Tower Dental we are happy to help.

Remedies for a Burnt Mouth or Tongue

May 1st, 2014

remedies for burnt mouth tongueA burnt mouth: we’ve all done it before, and we all know how awful it feels. From a slice a pizza that just came from the oven, to a steaming cup of coffee, we’ve all experienced the awful pain. The sensitivity that your mouth must endure for the next day is often much more annoying than the original burn. There are a few remedies that can help sooth the pain, and make it go away a little faster. Here our tips.

 First, keep your cool:

If you can, immediately after burning your tongue or mouth, you should find something cool to apply to it. Whether a glass of ice water, an ice cube, Popsicle or ice cream, it all can help. Make sure the cold is left on the burnt area for at least a minute to help dissipate the heat and save your mouth or tongue cells from becoming too damaged.
Yogurt is a great cool food that can help revitalize the mouth and even help kill bad bacteria that might make the damage worse. If you have some available, use that to cool your mouth.

 Help It Heal

Next, you’re going to want to keep good care of your mouth to keep it from becoming infected or just having the burn last longer than it needs to. Consider using an anesthetic ointment or a mouthwash that will help maintain the bacteria levels in your mouth. This can also help numb the pain from the burn, just make sure not to use too much.
Furthermore, you’ll want to avoid goods that can upset your mouth. These include any kind of food that is high in acidity: lemons, vinegar, citrus, tomatoes, fruit juices, and so forth. These kinds of foods can make the burnt area throb with pain. As well, try to avoid foods that can be rough to bite or chew, think potato chips, popcorn, baguettes. The crispy crunch of these foods will be like sandpaper to a sensitive area of the mouth.

 Continue the Soothe

It may still take a day for a burn on the tongue or mouth to heal, so to help avoid more pain than you need, consider grabbing a few cough drops. Look for ones with menthol or benzocaine as an ingredient. These cough drops will have a cooling affect on your mouth and will help soothe the burnt area. A few of these throughout the day and you’ll barely notice the pain.

 Time is the Best Medicine

Of course, when it comes to a burnt tongue or mouth, time is going to be the best fix. Most burns take about a day to two days to heal. The mouth and especially the tongue, are very well maintaining areas of the body. Think of how many times you’ve bit your tongue, or accidentally burnt it.
However strong it may be, it can become much stronger when you apply proper oral hygiene techniques everyday. Brushing, flossing, and mouthwash help keep out harmful bacteria and plaque that can cause harm to your mouth. With a proper cleaning, good bacterias and cells can help maintain a strong and healthy mouth.
If you have any more questions about an injured tongue or mouth, contact Water Tower Dental today, we’d be happy to help.

What's a Canker Sore? How to Get Relief

April 10th, 2014

what is a canker sore reliefPainful and intrusive, the canker sore is a annoyance that no person ever wants. Between the ages of 10 and 20, you have a high probability you’ll get a few canker sores a year that will last up to a week at a time. For adults, complex canker sores are always a possibility, though more rare. So what are canker sores, why do we get them, how do we find ourselves some relief?

Also known as apthous ulcers, cankers sores will appear on the inside of the mouth either on the tongue, soft palate, or inside your cheeks. Canker sores look like a shallow white and red bump which, after a day or two, can break and leave a white wound, similar to a blister. Though it can be an irritating situation, generally, a person with a canker sore will not receive any other symptoms.

How Do Canker Sores Happen?

There are several reasons scientists believe we get canker sores. Vitamin and nutritional deficiency is believed to be linked to canker sores. Reason being most trouble with the outermost layers of the skin in the human body is caused by vitamin deficiency. It is recommended that anyone who gets canker sores often should try to take more vitamins, especially B-12 which can help reduce soreness.
Stress and injury can also cause painful canker sores. If you may have eaten something that could burn or scrape against the lining of your mouth, or perhaps had an intense visit to the dentist, a canker sore can appear after the fact. Brushing too hard or using harsh mouthwashes can also cause stress in the mouth, which can lead to canker sores.
Though it’s good to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, sometimes a citric, highly acidic, fruit like a lemon or grapefruit can cause irritation that leads to a canker sore. Though fruits are not the actual cause of a sore, they can easily irritate and worsen an area, which can then cause the stress that leads to canker sores.
Last, a poor immune system can drastically affect the amount of time you have a canker sore. With a weak immune system, your body cannot repair the area of canker sore quickly. The more time the canker sore is an open wound, the more chance of irritating and elongating the sore.

Is There Any Relief?

Canker sores generally will last about a week with two of the days the most irritable then lessen for a few more days. Most canker sores will be gone within a week.
If a canker sore does not diminish and continues to irritate you, a dentist can prescribe an antimicrobial mouth rinse or ointment that can help reduce the pain. It’s also recommended to avoid acidic foods, consume more B-12 vitamins, and brush your teeth gently to keep pain to a minimum.
A natural remedy that often offers pain relief from sores is to apply a mix of hydrogen peroxide and water to the canker sore with a Q-tip. Then, use a small amount of milk of magnesia and cover the sore. This will soothe the painful area and help speed the healing process.
For the most part, canker sores are an inconvenient waiting game, and there is little to do about them. Much like a 24-hour flu, the best medicine is time.
If you have any more questions about canker sores, do not hesitate to contact Water Tower Dental. We are more than happy to assist our patients with any of their questions.

What Are Occlusal Adjustments?

February 6th, 2014

occlusal adjustmentsIf you are experiencing, headaches, ear problems, clicking or grating jaw, mouth discomfort, and looseness of teeth, or any combination of these symptoms, you may be having an issue with your TMJ. If that’s the case, your dentist might recommend occlusal adjustments. What are occlusal adjustments? It is a method to reshape the surface of your teeth to create an even and harmonious relationship between the top and bottom teeth. To understand why this needs to happen though, we must dig a little deeper.

As you may have read in our earlier blog post, we described the condition known as TMD, or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. This is a condition in which the TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint, is slightly displaced. This is a very delicate and complicated joint that helps move your jaw. When you stick your chin forward, or side-to-side, the mandible joint slides out of its socket. When your chin and jaw are centered and pulled back, the mandible sits in the sockets of the joint. the TMJ is designed to rest in the sockets of the joint rather than displaced forward or to the side. However, if your teeth are not aligned to the proper positions, then closing your mouth can cause a shift in the joint, which adds unnecessary stress to the mouth and jaw.
If your TMJ is misplaced, then the symptoms we mentioned earlier, plus more can begin to occur. You can wake up in the morning with headaches, pain behind the eyes, swollen throat, sore neck and more. Most telling, when you wake up, you might not be able to move your mouth or jaw and have trouble opening up your mouth to eat. If this sounds like a situation you have experienced before, you should consult a dentist immediately.
So what will happen at the dentist? If you do happen to have TMD, your dentist will want to make occlusal adjustments to better align your teeth so your mandible can rest correctly in its socket using Tek scan technology. This includes finding the teeth’s positions in the mouth and the proper areas to make the adjustment. Much like trimming your hair or fingernails, only very small amounts of the teeth are shaved down to create an evenly centric relation. With that, you should experience less teeth grinding and your jaw should sit more centered relieving any kind of discomfort.
occlusal adjustmentsWhile shaving down teeth can seem like an easy option, it’s an irreversible procedure, and if the adjustments aren’t made properly, you could find yourself in a troubling situation. At Water Tower Dental, we offer non-damaging therapy options that can help fix the TMD condition. Using a Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation, or TENS, unit, we are able to asses any neuromuscular problems. While many doctors focus on the misplacement of the jaw, scientific developments have revealed that some problems associated with teeth, mouth, and jaws are actually caused by improper functions of the muscles and nerves. Using the TENS unit, we are able to find ideal positioning of the jaw.
With the information gathered, we can begin properly adjusting the jaw to relieve discomfort. We recommend patients to wear an orthotic for three months, afterward, we can determine if the orthotic has alleviated the symptoms or if further adjustments are necessary.
Much of TMD is trial and error; all patients’ jaws and muscles react different to orthotics and natural adjustments. However, we do believe using non-damaging methods first is the best option. While occlusal adjustments may have worked in the past, there are too many cases in which damage has been done without proper results.
If you are having symptoms of TMD and would like to talk to Water Tower Dental on how you can fix the issue without irreversible procedures, contact us today.

Are Toothpicks Good for Your Teeth?

January 30th, 2014

are toothpicks good for your teethToothpicks have been one of the most widely used tools for hygiene in the world. These simple pieces of carved wood help us free those annoying food particles stuck between our teeth after a rousing meal. But are toothpicks good for your teeth? Doesn’t the act of poking and prodding at your teeth and gums seem slightly wrong? If you have that inclination, it’s because you’re right. While toothpicks can be a helpful tool, overuse can be harmful and should call alarm to a bigger concern.

Toothpicks are one of the oldest oral hygiene inventions dating back to 3,500 BC. A bronze pendant was worn around the neck and used as a toothpick in China, and over 2,900 years later, the Chinese initialized a law that their armies use toothpicks to control their horribly bad breath. Back then, it was instructed to use any splinter of wood lying around that could clean their teeth. These days, in the United States, most toothpicks come from “toothpick trees” or white birch trees. Billions of toothpicks are made every year, which makes them quite a handy tool, but they aren’t the best for your teeth and gums.
Toothpicks have been used throughout history for a very long time, there weren’t the medical advancements and helpful products that we have now on the market. Floss, toothbrushes, mouthwash and more all do a better job at what a toothpick can do without the potential of damaging your teeth and gums.
When using a toothpick, especially at frequent use, you’re poking and prodding at sensitive areas of your gums. The more you use a toothpick, the more times you’re irritating that one spot. Imagine poking the tip of your finger with a knife. It might give you a small cut or a tiny sore. One poke isn’t going to do much, but poke that same area twice a day, for a week. You’ll notice the sore will increase in size and sensitivity. That’s what you’re doing to the small areas of your gums that a toothpick is hitting.
Instead, employ the use of dental floss and a toothbrush to clear away all debris and food that is caught in your teeth. These tools are much more effective and safer for your mouth than a toothpick.
Of course we understand you might not have floss and a toothbrush in your pocket when going out on that special dinner date or after a big ribs and corn on the cob summer barbecue. At those moments, it’s okay to use a toothpick, just don’t rely on it as your number one tool for dental hygiene. You may run into problems then.
Furthermore, if you’re finding that food gets stuck in your teeth often, you may have more troubles than you think and a toothpick can’t help you. Though small particles (ones that a toothpick can’t reach) will always find their way between your teeth, larger food pieces should be rare. If you’re having issues with food sticking between your teeth, you could be experiencing a shift in teeth, improper fillings, or a hole in your tooth. All of these problems should be properly managed before it’s too late. Consult your dentist or set up an appointment with Water Tower Dental, Chicago’s #1 rated dental practice, today.
While toothpicks might be a helpful tool sometimes for your teeth, use them sparingly; we live in a day and age with advanced tools to help take care of our teeth. Use those instead and have a bright, beautiful smile for many years.

Start the New Year Right: 5 Tips for Better Teeth

January 9th, 2014

tips for better teethWhile listing out your New Years resolutions this time around, consider adding a few resolutions for your health, and specifically, your mouth. Keeping your teeth, gums, and tongue in good shape can help you in the years to come. Practicing good oral hygiene will help you look and feel good, along with allow you to avoid major dental surgeries and complications in the future. Here are 5 tips you can easily make into New Years resolutions for a better, healthier smile.

Brush for At Least Two Minutes Every Time

Though it may be simple to brush your teeth everyday, it’s a lot harder to do it for as long as it’s recommended. Two minutes is the least amount of time you should brush your teeth. Try singing a song in your head that’s at least that long, or keep a timer close to your toothbrush. You could also use an electric toothbrush, like SoniCare, which has a built in timer. Brushing is the most effective way of cleaning your teeth and keeping them as healthy as possible, but very little is done if you brush for under two minutes. Resolve to brush for at least two minutes every time you brush and you’ll notice a healthier, cleaner smile.

Avoid Sugary Drinks

One of the most harmful foods for your teeth are drinks that are high in sugar: sodas, fruit juices, Gatorade, and the like. These drinks eat away at the enamel of your teeth and feed the bacteria that lives in your mouth. Because it’s a liquid, these sugars are able to fit into every nook and cranny of your teeth and are tough to get out. Set a resolution this year to avoid these harmful drinks for the sake of your teeth. If you must have a soda every once in awhile though, try to drink a glass of water or brush after you consume it. This will help remove the sugars from your teeth and gums.

Floss Everyday

It’s incredibly important to floss once a day. The most harmful bacterias tend to colonize and reproduce under your teeth and in the crevices of your gums. Flossing helps remove the plaque and bacteria before it can reach those pockets. By removing the debris that’s between your teeth, where a toothbrush can’t reach, you can lower your risk of dental complications such as periodontitis, otherwise known as gum disease. For more information on flossing, check out this article.

Get a Tongue Scraper

In the New Year, find yourself a tongue scraper that works for you and use it. The main causes of bad breath don’t have to do with your teeth or gums, but rather your tongue. Bacteria builds up on the surface of your tongue, especially in the back area near your throat. A tongue scraper is a small instrument that you glide against the groove of your tongue to pull off any bacteria that has formed on the top of the surface. Tongue scrapers are a great way to keep your mouth clean while making your breath smell fresh.

Visit Your Dentist

This year, resolve to visit your dentist once every six months. Routine check ups are a great way to get a fresh cleaning and to detect any complications before they become a costly situation. Periodontitis and cavities can be easily detected in the early stages to help keep them from becoming a serious issue. As well, your dentist will talk to you about ways of cleaning your teeth better and how to have the healthiest smile possible. At Water Tower Dental, we want to make sure every patient of ours is getting the best treatment available. If you’d like to make an appointment with us, please contact us today. Good luck in the new year, here’s to healthier teeth!

When Should My Child First See the Dentist and What Will Happen?

December 19th, 2013

childs first dentist visitWhen it comes to your child, there are many firsts that must be determined. A very important first for a child is the first time they visit the dentist. At Water Tower Dental, we make sure that this fist visit is a great experience that helps a child learn to love cleaning their teeth and visiting the dentist for years to come. But when exactly should your child start to visit the dentist?

We recommend you begin checkups for your child before the age of 2. Taking your child to the dentist is a great way to help prevent tooth and gum decay. As a parent, it helps you understand the best practices for keeping your children’s teeth clean and preventative practices. Tooth decay can occur as soon as teeth appear, as a parent you must be ready to help your child prevent decay and further troubles with their teeth.
When first taking your child to the dentist, help them prepare by understanding what the dentist does and what they might experience. As well, plan for the different outcomes of how a child may react. Many children are happy to cooperate, while others can become scared, or just have trouble sitting still. Make sure to talk to your child on what to expect from the dentist so they can feel ready and understand what behavior is appropriate. Also make sure to bring along and important medical records for your child.
At Water Tower Dental, we do our best to make each checkup fun for your child. We want children to have an experience they enjoy, not one they should fear. Many children’s first visits are often an introductory to the dental office and a way to acquaint your child with the sights and sounds of a dentist. If a child is acting uncomfortable of being non-cooperative, it may be encouraged to try a few short visits to the dentist to help your child become better acquainted. This can be an important experience, especially in the future if your child has more serious dental issues.
If a child is comfortable and relaxed, we spend a short amount of time helping your child understand the best practices of dental hygiene while inspecting and cleaning their teeth.
Depending on the age of the child, precedes may include:
 

  • Thorough examination of the mouth including the teeth, gums, jaw, bite, and oral tissue.
  • Gentle cleaning and polishing to remove plaque.
  • X-Rays
  • A demonstration on proper oral hygiene and cleaning.

Once a full examination is complete, the dentist will talk to you, the parent, on any concerns they may have and if any action should be taken.
After the first visit to the dentist, children should return every six months for proper cleaning and check up. However, if a child has trouble with the dentist, interim visits every three months may be necessary at first to help your child feel comfortably and confident at the dentist.
If your child is ready for the dentist, don’t hesitate to contact Water Tower Dental today. We’re happy to show every child how fun the dentist can be and give them an experience they won’t forget.

Smart Practices for Healthier Teeth

December 12th, 2013

smart practices for healthier teethOf course it’s no question that the smartest practices for healthy teeth are brushing and flossing everyday. However, there are several more tips that can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy, and breath fresh. Today we’d like to discuss a few more smart practices for healthier teeth.

Drink Plenty of Water

This is a universal tip for a healthy lifestyle, however it’s extremely helpful for good teeth. Water is the simplest way to flush your mouth of food particles and harmful bacteria. The more water you drink, the better chances of removing waste from your mouth. We recommend 8 to 10 cups of water a day. Try drinking a glass an hour while at work; it’s a great way to get all of your water in for the day.

Eat Foods that are Good for Your Teeth

We’ve mentioned a few before, but that are plenty of foods that can actually help your teeth. Crunchy vegetables like broccoli and carrots, which contain essential minerals and vitamins, can help the mouth salivate and wash away debris and bacteria from the teeth and gums. Foods that are high in vitamin D are also very helpful for the teeth as it helps absorb any calcium that you’ve consumed, a major chemical in building strong teeth. Try consuming foods high in vitamin D such as salmon, oysters, and mushrooms.

Change Your Toothbrush

You might brush everyday, three times a day, but if you’re using an old, worn toothbrush, it may be doing more harm than good. It’s a smart practice to replace your brush every two to three months. Otherwise, bacteria can build up between the bristles, and you’ll end up brushing bacteria back into your mouth.

Eat Less Sugar

You may have read our previous post on how bad sugar really is for your teeth. Which may surprise you that we recommend now to eat less sugar. Basically, sugar is bad for your teeth when you allow it to be. If you rinse your mouth and brush your teeth after consuming sugar, then you’re fine. However, we understand, most people aren’t carrying a toothbrush around with them halfway through the workday when you need that mid-day sugar pick me up. Though it may seem like a good idea, consuming sugars can really hurt your teeth, so try to avoid it when you can. Rather than a sugary cupcake or candy bar, try an apple or an orange to perk you up.

Your Teeth Are Not a Tool

Make note, your teeth are for eating food and not much else. Don’t use your teeth to untie knots or open up bags of chips or crush ice. All of these uses and more are extremely detrimental to your teeth. You can end up chipping or cracking a tooth very easily when you use your teeth for things other than chewing food. If you need to open that bag of chips, use scissors, if you want to crush some ice, use a blender.

Drink Tea Everyday

Tea is a great source of flavonoids and catechins, which are most helpful in keeping harmful bacteria from sticking to your teeth. As well, they kill free radicals that can cause cancer. Drink green tea for the best benefits without staining your teeth.

Six-Month Check Ups

The last practice we strongly recommend is visiting your dentist once every six months for a routine cleaning and check up. The check ups tend to include a thorough examination of your teeth and gums to detect any signs of cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. When visiting your dentist they can also recommend healthy practices that are specific to your needs.
If you’re in the Chicago-land area and are looking for the number one rated dentists in Chicago, come to Water Tower Dental Care for your next check up. With a professional team of dental experts we would be happy to start you on the path of a brighter, whiter, and healthier smile.

Can You Floss Too Much?

December 5th, 2013

can i floss too muchAn interesting question that arises in our office from time to time from concerned patients is if they can potentially floss too much and cause damage to their teeth. Flossing is one of the most important oral hygiene practices a person should perform. It helps clear out plaque and bacteria build up between the teeth and gums that a normal toothbrush cannot reach. It may be surprising to read that you can, in fact, floss too much. However, we encourage you to read further to understand exactly what that means.

Flossing is a simple practice that can keep your teeth in top shape for many years. Use a few inches of floss and work in between two teeth. In a saw-like motion scrap the sides of the teeth to remove plaque build up. Make sure to focus on each side of the tooth and use good amount of muscle to apply pressure. Make sure not to force the floss against the gums. The main purpose of the floss is to remove plaque on the side of the teeth. Most people believe it is to dig under the tooth into the gum, which we don’t recommend. If you floss once a day, the plaque build up will stay clear enough to stay out of the gums.
We recommend that you floss once a day because plaque that will build up between your teeth takes about 24 hours to form. Flossing once a day is more than enough to keep that area cleared. For whatever reason, if you find yourself needing a good floss after a serious meal of corn on the cob or maybe popcorn, it’s okay to floss twice or even three times in a day. However, we do not recommend that you make that a routine. A triple-floss day should be as rare as a solar eclipse.
If you feel like flossing once a day isn't enough for you, you may be flossing wrong. Find out if you're not flossing the right way by taking a look at these 5 common flossing mistakes.
You can floss too much. That’s right, and if you do you can seriously irritate and damage gum tissue. We imagine anyone who is over-flossing is probably overly-concerned with dental hygiene, however you’re doing more damage then good. The more you floss in a day, the more chance you’re allowing irritation to the gums. They can become sore and swollen and even start to bleed. If you continue to over-floss, you’ll begin to destroy your gum line and expose your tooth’s surface and its root. Once the root of your tooth is exposed, you can cause great damage that will lead to infection and potential root cavities (which are never fun).
As well, if you’re flossing too much, you’re wearing down the enamel on your tooth which is able to protect your teeth from cavities and damage. The more you wear away at that enamel, the higher chance you have of hurting your teeth and gums.
While there are exceptions to the rule, we really don’t recommend flossing more than once a day. However, we strongly encourage you continue to floss everyday. Flossing is one of the best practices you can perform to keep you teeth and gums healthy for a very long time. If you think you’re having trouble flossing, wearing at enamel, or would like to have a proper cleaning performed by the best dental practice in Chicago, call Water Tower Dental today. We would be happy to guide you through best oral hygiene practices while cleaning and preparing your teeth for a better, brighter smile.

What is TMJ, TMD, and is There a Cure?

November 14th, 2013

tmdThe Temporomandibular Joint, or (TMJ) is a hinge joint that connects your lower jaw to the bone of the skull located just in front of the ears. This joint allows the jaw to move freely so you can talk, chew, yawn, etc. The muscles that attach to the joint help control the position of the jaw and its movements. Often, many confuse TMJ with the term TMD, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. Whether you refer to it one way or the other, TMD is a painful and often frustrating condition that, if not treated, can cause serious issues.

What Is TMD?
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder encompasses a group of problems that can happen with the Temporomandibular Joint. While a serious condition, most research on the disorder has not determined a single cause. Sometimes it can be a small problem that’s more of an annoyance than anything else, while other times it can greatly affect your livelihood.
The least severe cases of TMD can be caused by slight displacement of the joint, which causes pain when biting down hard on food. The pain shoots through the side of the mouth to the joint. While certainly not a serious condition, it’s no walk in the park. The pain can cause great discomfort along with being a tough distraction.
tmdIn the most severe cases, TMD can drastically change your life and become a very debilitating problem. The disc within the jaw joint can slip out of its position, most likely during sleep. When the person awakes, they discover that their jaw will not open more than a few millimeters. The person can’t open their mouth to eat, talk, or even brush their teeth.
Whether your case of TMD is severe or moderate, there are a few signs that can signal an opportunity to fix the problem before its too late. Those symptoms include:
 

  • Pain in jaw muscles and joints
  • Pain in face and neck
  • Sore and stiffened jaw muscles
  • Clicking or popping sounds when moving jaw
  • Noticeable change in the upper and lower teeth’s positions.

tmj
Is There a Cure?
There are several ways to detect jaw displacement as well as to cure the issue before it becomes serious. At Water Tower Dental we first determine how serious the issue and where exactly the problem is located. Luckily, many of the symptoms above can also be caused by neuromuscular dysfunctions.
We start by using a low-level frequency Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation, or TENS, unit. As it delivers small electrical impulses to the jaw muscles, it relaxes the to find the jaw’s ideal positioning.
A JVA or Joint Vibration Analysis is also used to measure sounds in the jaw joint. The information received helps us determine if the problem is part of the jaw muscle or if there is jaw joint damage and how much.
Once we determine what the main causes for the discomfort and pain, we can decide on a proper technique to fix. If improper jaw alignment is the case, and the Temporomandibular Joint is out of place, we can create a custom orthotic appliance to hold the patient’s jaw for proper alignment.  The brace is worn for three months or until the jaw’s bite stabilizes. Afterward, we are able to alleviate any other symptoms through further therapy, drug therapy, and- in worst cases- surgery. Some patients may need further help and even use an orthotic appliance for the rest of their life.
If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms above, it’s wise to contact your dentist for a proper examination before the issue becomes too serious. Call Water Tower Dental today for the number one rated dentist in Chicago. We’d be happy to help you get on your way to a better, brighter smile.

What To Look For In A Mouthwash

October 10th, 2013

how to choose a mouthwashIf you're looking for that extra step in oral hygiene to help kill bacteria and freshen breath, look no further than mouthwash. There are three leading types of mouthwash that all serve different purposes depending on your needs. Here's a helpful guide to educate you on what you should look for in a mouthwash and why.
Mouthwashes are a great tool for proper oral hygiene, however, cannot replace brushing and flossing which are essential to teeth care. While mouthwash can help both free the mouth of food particles and kill bacteria, it does not have the same strength and brushing and flossing. That is because mouthwash does not have the abrasive scrubbing power of either a toothbrush or floss.

Mouthwash works by a round of bacteria-fighting chemicals, usually different depending on the brand of mouthwash. However, the main ingredient for a successful mouthwash comes from a chlorhexidine compound, which helps prevent plaque build up. Mouthwashes before chlorhexidine did not stay long enough in the mouth to do any successful fighting of plaque and bacteria. In the 1960s, though, it was discovered that chlorhexidine was able to adhere to the teeth and help fight plaque for many hours. Since then, a range of commercial brands have released their version of the mouthwash, all with a chlorhexidine compound.
There are three main types of mouthwash which each serve slightly different functions, while all still helping fight plaque.
The first type of mouthwash is the Antibacterial mouthwash. These types of mouthwashes are helpful in fighting gum disease, gingivitis, plaque, along with reducing the bacteria count by 75 percent. Antibacterial formulas are typically high in alcohol content and can often come with a small burning sensation when used. With a strong flavor, many find antibacterial mouthwashes slightly uncomfortable, but highly effective. If the alcohol in mouthwash is a nuisance to a consumer, however, there are several alcohol-free versions of the same brands you can try.
breath-rxThe next type of mouthwash is a Breath-Freshening mouthwash. The kinds of mouthwashes are typically made with a much lower alcohol content than the antibacterial mouthwashes. Rather, these mouthwashes have higher counts of chlorine or zinc which are helpful in defusing the sulphur compounds which are the leading cause of bad breath. While, these kinds of mouthwashes do have a stronger focus on breath, they still have the ability to fight bacteria. The compound cetylpyridinium is often present in many of these mouthwashes, which helps fight bacteria and plaque.
actThe last type of mouthwash is a Fluoride-Based rinse. These mouthwashes are very specific to anti-cavity and prevention. Fluoride is known to help protect and strengthen tooth enamel, which in turn protect the teeth from harmful decay. While many mouthwashes can contain fluoride, there are specific mouthwashes that have a much higher content of fluoride then any other anti-bacterial compound. With these kinds of mouthwashes, the user must be very strict with the directions. Fluoride must remain on the teeth for over a half hour to successfully work. If you use a fluoride-based mouthwash, make sure to not rinse, drink water, or eat for thirty minutes after use.
There is a fourth kind of mouthwash, which is a teeth-whitening mouthwash, however, if you have read from previous articles, (LINK TO TEETH WHITENING), there are plenty of whitening methods that are much more effective and cost conscious.
It is always recommended to follow the directions on the back of your mouthwash bottle. Each kind of mouthwash, antibacterial, breath freshening, and fluoride, all have separate directions and uses. Be sure you're using your mouthwash correctly for the most effective outcome.
If you have questions about mouthwash or proper oral care, do no hesitate to contact Water Tower Dental and set up an appointment today to start on the path to perfect oral hygiene.

Overcoming Dental Phobia With Sedation Dentistry

September 12th, 2013

dental sedationWhat Is Sedation Dentistry?

Let's face it, not everyone enjoys the dental office as much as Water Tower Dental. In fact, 5 to 10 percent of adults in the US experience dental phobia. That is to say, they fear the dentist so strongly that they'll avoid the doctor at all costs. In these cases, we like to offer our patients to partake in the practice of Sedation Dentistry: the use of pharmacological agents to relax a patient during their dental examination.

We take our patient's health and well being very seriously. We want them to all have the brightest, healthiest smiles possible, but we understand it can be hard for some of our patients to relax in the dentist's chair for very long. The practice of Sedation Dentistry helps calm a patient's nerves and allows them to stay relaxed while our doctor's care for them.
While there are numerous methods for sedation, Water Tower Dental uses two methods: oral conscious sedation and nitrous oxide sedation. Both methods are safe and widely used throughout the dental industry. The difference comes in timing and strength.
Oral conscious sedation is a medication taken orally before your visit to the dentist. While the medication leaves you conscious and able to ask questions, you will have a feeling of complete relaxation. Often patients with oral sedation lose track of time and fall asleep in the dentist's chair from being so relaxed. Because the medication takes time to wear off (typically, effects subside by the following day), it is recommended you have someone to drive you and look after you after visiting the dentist.
Nitrous oxide sedation, also known as laughing gas, is a colorless and odorless gas that is inhaled through the nose while the dentist is able to perform their procedures. The gas makes you feel calm and relaxed, once removed, the effects of the nitrous oxide will subside. This allows you to monitor yourself after treatment and even drive yourself home immediately after the visit.

Do You Need Dental Sedation?

Dental fear and phobia are very common within adults. While 5 to 10 percent of adults in US experience dental phobia, almost 75% of adults in the US harbor some kind of dental fear, from mild to severe. So how do you know if your fear is too much to handle the dentist's chair or if you just need a little courage?
Here are a few signs of dental phobia that can help you know how severe your fear is:

  • The night before the dental exam, you have trouble sleeping.
  • You anxiousness increases while in the dentist's waiting room.
  • The thought of the dental visit makes you physically ill
  • You panic, or your reflexes trigger, when dental instruments are placed in your mouth.
  • You feel emotionally unstable when thinking of the dentist or their instruments.

We also suggest sedation dentistry if:

  • Local anesthetics do not affect you as well
  • You have a sensitive gag reflex
  • You have other health issues, such as bad back or neck that could lead to discomfort in the dentist's chair.

If any of these describe you, there's a very good chance you would benefit from dental sedation. But there's nothing to worry about. Water Tower Dental is the premier dentist in Chicago. We treat each patient with great care. And, if you address your fear and let us know, we can help you overcome the anxiety with the help of sedation dentistry.
If you have more questions, do not be afraid to call and talk with us before committing to an appointment. We would be happy to hear from you.

Natural Cures for Bad Breath

September 5th, 2013

bad breathA large percentage of Americans suffer from bad breath. While good oral hygiene can help keep bad breath at bay, sometimes a mouth needs to take further measures to help keep it from smelling too bad. Today we'd like to discuss a few natural ways to help reduce bad smelling breath.
Bad breath comes from bacteria that breed at the back of your tongue, throat, and tonsils. The more this bacterium grows, the harsher your breath will smell. In the morning, your breath can often be the worst because the bacteria had all night to grow and produce while you slept. There are some great natural ways to help reduce the smell of bad breath and keep the bacteria in the back of your throat controlled. Here are a few of the best natural recommendations:

Parsley

Not just used for decoration on your dinner plate, parsley is a natural palate cleanser. Rich in the chemical chlorophyll it can help neutralize the bad breath and clear away any tastes in your mouth.
Parsley is also an anti-mutagen. Mutagen is a mutation, chemical or biologically, of a substance, in this case bacteria. It can change from an unscented chemical to something much worse. Parsley stops the substance from this action. Try a few sprigs of parsley after dinner; it's a great way to keep the mouth fresh.

Apples

Apples as well as any kind of fiber-rich fruit can help battle bad breath. One of bad breath's triggers is a dry mouth. Fiber-rich fruit helps activate saliva to wash away bad bacteria. Natural enzymes in apples are able to help break down the sulfur compounds that cause bad breath. As well, the texture of fruit acts as a natural toothbrush that can help clear the mouth of old food and plaque, which often helps lead to bad breath.

Lemon

The use of a lemon can help activate your salivary glands to flush away bad breath. Try sucking on a lemon or even squeezing some of the juice in a fresh glass of water. The acidity helps kill bad bacteria as well as salivate your mouth. Dry mouth is one of the leading causes for bad breath, so helping keep the mouth hydrated and wet is extremely important

Water

That leads to our next tip, keep your mouth hydrated with water to avoid bad breath. Make sure to drink the daily-recommended amount of water every day: at least eight cups. Often people who do jobs that require a lot of talking have worse breath because they dry out their mouth. Be aware of your hydration levels and make sure to keep drinking lots of water throughout the day.

Fresh Herbs

Originally, before toothpaste, many people used fresh herbs to keep their mouth clean and breath fresh. That's because most fresh herbs contain chlorophyll, which absorbs bad odors. Just like parsley, many other herbs can curb the smell of bad breath. Especially helpful herbs include mint, peppermint, dill, and basil. If you chew then swallow the fresh herbs after a meal, they can continue to help fight bad breath throughout the night.

Avoid Sugars

A natural way to prevent bad breath sometimes doesn't mean eating certain foods, but rather avoiding the bad ones. Sugars are especially great at promoting the growth of bad breath bacteria. Avoiding anything too sugary (i.e. candy, desserts, chocolate, soda, energy drinks) will both eliminate bad breath and help keep you just a little healthier.
While these are all great tips, we cannot stress how important it is to brush and floss daily, at least twice a day. Removing plaque, food remnants, and harmful bacteria is the best way to keep your teeth, gums, and tongue healthy. Try softly brushing your tongue, reaching as far back as possible to help scrub away bad bacteria that can be causing bad breath.
As well, don't hesitate to make an appointment with your local dentist. At Water Tower Dental we perform routine cleanings that help remove tartar from teeth, eliminate areas of bacteria build up, and advise you on how to keep your breath as fresh as possible. If you're in the Chicago-land area, make an appointment today and be well on your way to a healthy smile.

Are At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits Worth It?

July 10th, 2013

zoom teeth whiteningFor every great, reliable method for tooth care, there are dozens of imitators and "fast-acting" methods that try to cash in on new trends. The process of teeth whitening is one of the biggest victims of this pattern. While at-home whitening techniques can work, it's hard to sift through the many different products to find the ones guaranteed to do a good job. Many products can promise whiter teeth, but don't help fix the underlying problem. Others can take so long to show a difference that you forget what your teeth first looked like to even determine a change in color.
While you may continue to ask if at-home teeth whitening is worth it while trying dozens of new products, we believe it's our duty to help you choose the best teeth whitening kits, and to tell you which don't work.

First, what doesn't work?

Toothpastes: Though there are a lot of toothpastes claiming to whiten teeth, for the most part, they don't have much effect. Though some do offer a slight change in color, this is mostly from a chemical used in the toothpaste called blue covarine which, rather that scrubbing off stains to reach the white tooth, it stains the teeth white. In a way, this is counter-active. It would be like painting over the stains on your living room walls, though they might disappear for a little bit; the stain is still there and will slowly resurface with time.
Mouthwashes: Though a lot of guarantees are given with mouthwashes that whiten teeth, again, for the most part, they're not very effective. The reason being that the hydrogen peroxide present in mouth whitening mouthwashes is not strong enough to make a lasting impression. The chemical can remove surface stains from the teeth, but not much further. Unfortunately, surface stains are the ones that come back rather quickly (through drinking coffee, red wine, smoking, etc.).
Gels: Very similar to both mouthwashes and toothpastes, gels can show results, but many of those results won't appear for over six weeks. Though they do often garner better results than both mouthwashes and toothpastes, they still are mediocre at best. The chemical combinations are not custom to your teeth as well as usually not very strong.

What does work?

Over-the-Counter Kits: The best at-home teeth whitening remedy is obtained by visiting a dentist and allowing them to prepare a take home kit for you. These are similar to gels where you use them at home for a stretch of time to garner results. The difference is that the Dentist will make you a customized mouth tray and can guide you through the steps of proper whitening.
The chemical solutions are stronger than products you can purchase at a local pharmacy and only take about two weeks to show lasting results. On average, the trays are used for one hour a day for a total of two weeks. Follow-up appointments are necessary to advise future treatments.
Water Tower Dental Care provides a great at-home whitening surface that's guaranteed to make your smile brighter. Make an appointment today for more information.

Or, Get Out of the House

Though At-Home remedies can brighten your smile, if you really want lasting results, consider making an appointment with Water Tower Dental for a team of trained professionals to take your stained teeth and make them look brand new. Using the leading whitening system, Zoom!, Water Tower Dental Care can change your teeth's color eight shades in an hour. A specific pH balanced hydrogen peroxide is applied to your teeth while a low heat light activates the solution to penetrate down to the whitest layers of your teeth. Call today to talk to one of our dental care professionals to learn more about whitening your teeth.

How Often Should I Floss My Teeth? Am I Flossing Too Much?

June 13th, 2013

am i flossing too muchFlossing is an important part of dental hygiene. One should consider it just as beneficial as brushing their teeth in the fight to prevent plaque, cavities, and gingivitis. However, from last week's post: How to Brush Your Teeth Properly, we learned it's not beneficial to brush your teeth more than three times a day and can potentially hurt your gums. Another question we though we could clear up is; "Can you floss too much?" (Too much being more than three times a day)
The simple answer is no. If you're experiencing pain or discomfort while flossing regularly, it's more likely that you're flossing incorrectly than flossing too much. We'll get to that issue in a moment. But more importantly, we would like to respond to the question by asking another, "Why would you want to floss that much?"

Why Is It Important to Floss?

To understand why we ask that question, it's good to know a little more about flossing. Flossing is a critical element to healthy gums. Its main purpose is to remove the plaque and bacteria that forms in between the teeth, where a toothbrush will have trouble reaching. Though its purpose is to mostly help the gums, the floss' focus should remain on the tooth. When plaque builds up, it will slowly work its way down into the gums. By removing it from the teeth, you're preventing any potential health issues with your gums.
So, here's why we ask the second question. Plaque and bacteria between your teeth does not produce as quickly as it might on the outside layer of your teeth. Most plaque and bacteria in between your teeth will take about 24 hours to form. So, if you floss once a day, there's not much reason to continue flossing. Of course, if you ate a messy meal and have food stuck between your teeth, you might find a second (or even third) flossing session in a day beneficial for your comfort, however, it's not a necessary action.
So back to those who do floss several times a day and are experiencing discomfort. Most likely, you're flossing incorrectly.

3 common flossing mistakes that you should avoid:

Not Working Each Side of the Tooth

When flossing, you should place the floss between your teeth and form a C shape around one side of a tooth and scrub. Then, you should reverse your C shape and scrub the opposite side. Often, many people will only scrub one side, or neither and just "saw" the floss between the teeth. This can result in neither plaque or bacteria being removed and ultimately causing gum damage.

Forcing The Floss Between the Teeth

Another common mistake happens when two teeth are very tightly pushed together. The proper way to move floss in between the teeth is so use a sawing motion to slowly enter the tight space. If you're forcing the floss between the teeth in a snapping motion, you can cause the floss to come down hard and cut the gums, which can result in bleeding and further damage.

Not Using New Floss

When you switch from one tooth to another, it's a good idea to move the floss in your hands to an un-used spot. Floss removes the plaque by scraping it off and catching most of it on the floss. If you're using the same area of floss for the next tooth, you're going to be adding plaque you already removed to a new area.

Flossing Without a Plan

Another issue that can cause discomfort, even if you are flossing numerous times a day, is missing entire sections of your teeth because you're not strategically flossing. If you're not focusing the floss between every tooth, your numerous flossing practices may not be working very well. You should start with a plan as to how you will work your way around your mouth to floss between every tooth.
Your plan is entirely up to you, but it's wise to stick to whatever that plan is. If you want to start at the very back of your lower teeth, work your way around and then do the same for the top, that's a great strategy. Whatever the plan is, just make sure to stick with it each time you floss, that way you're always sure you're cleaning every tooth.
If you avoid these common mistakes and keep a good schedule of flossing at least once a day, you'll be on your way to healthier gums and a brighter smile. If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment with Water Tower Dental, Chicago's #1 Dental Office, contact us today, we'd be happy to talk to you more about proper dental techniques and make sure you're teeth are on their way to meet their full potential.

1 of 9 Things you Shouldn't Share

October 3rd, 2011

Interesting excerpt from an article written by Jean Weiss for MSN Health and Fitness.  Enjoy and let WTDC  know what you think.  Remember to always  replace your old toothbrush with the complimentary brush we give you at your hygiene appointment.  See you soon!
One of Nine things You Shouldn't Share
Toothbrushes
You’re about to spend the night at a friend’s house, but forgot your toothbrush. Especially if your friend is a romantic partner, you may be tempted to use his or hers—after all, you’ve been kissing already, so it’s probably OK, right? Wrong.
 “You abrade your skin when you brush your teeth,” Gerba says. “I wouldn’t share a toothbrush, not even with someone you are kissing.” Blood-borne disease, such as hepatitis B and C, and HIV, can be transmitted through a toothbrush, whereas they are less likely to be transmitted through kissing. You can also pick up someone’s respiratory or other illnesses, such as a cold or the flu, by sharing a toothbrush.
 If you are a mere night away from gum recession or otherwise can’t stand to go without brushing, there are ways to disinfect the brush. Gerba suggests boiling a toothbrush in hot water or using an ultraviolet light system or sanitizing solution made for this purpose.

Show Us Your Tongue

August 17th, 2011

In the July 2011 issue of  SHAPE magazine www.SHAPE.com I noticed a very interesting snippet on page 95.  In the Oral Report it was advised to stick your tongue out at your doctor or dentist at your next visit, this is the best way to check for tongue cancer.  It went on to say that tongue cancer, while still rare, has increased by 111 percent among Caucasian women younger than 44.  While the cause for the increase is a mystery, a study by University of North Carolina researchers have not linked the increase to HPV, smoking or drinking.  We at Water Tower Dental Care would be happy to have you stick out your tongue at us and be on the lookout for persistent irritation of the tongue or sores that don't go away.  Give us a call 312-787-2131.

April Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April 12th, 2011

Make an appointment with Water Tower Dental Care for your oral cancer screening today.  According to Brian Hill, oral cancer survivor and founder of The Oral Cancer Foundation (www. oralcancerfoundation.org). "It used to be older individuals who were habitual tobacco users. Now, the primary cause of oral cancers, approximately 63%, is the HPV-16 virus." HPV-16 is one of several strains of the human papilloma virus widely known to cause genital warts and cervical cancer. According to Hill, "Anyone who is old enough to have sex is old enough to have the virus and should be screened for oral cancer. Basically, any adult who walks into a dentist's office should be screened," Hill said in an interview.
The screening for oral cancer is fast and pain free using the Velscope by LED Dental which uses a special light that detects abnormal cells by making them glow.
Call 312-787-2131 to schedule a 30 minute velscope appointment with Dr. Aneszko or Dr. Stino today!