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

October 25th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Go Early

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

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

Stick to Your Neighborhood

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

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

Candy Safety

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk to Your Children

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

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

​What is the Difference Between a Dentist and Orthodontist?

October 18th, 2018

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

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

But that’s where the similarities stop.

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

Schooling for Dentists

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

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

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

Schooling for Orthodontists

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

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

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

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

Different Procedures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Should I Visit?

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

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


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

What if you don’t know an orthodontist?

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

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

​What is Dental Deep Cleaning and Do I Need It?

October 11th, 2018

dental deep cleaningDentists will often recommend a deep dental cleaning for people who don’t brush and floss regularly or for those who have missed several dental check-up appointments.

While it may sound like another way for the dentist to make money, the reality is that deep dental cleaning is an established procedure that is critical to the health and well-being of both you and your teeth.

Even with regular flossing and brushing, plaque and tartar can slowly build up on the teeth causing the beginning stages of gum disease. This is why dentists recommend that you go in for a checkup at least once a year (twice, preferably).

We’re going to look at what deep cleanings are, why they’re recommended, and how they’re performed.

Why Are Deep Cleanings Recommended?

The technical term for a deep cleaning is “root scaling and planing.” It’s an established dental treatment that’s been around for well over 70 years. When you sit down in the dental chair, and the dentist starts to examine your mouth, he will use a small metal probe to measure the areas around your teeth.

He’s specifically looking to measure the depth of the gum tissue between the teeth and gums. If the depth goes beyond five millimeters, it’s referred to as a “pocket,” and this is the area where bacteria will form and live. Healthy pockets measure no more than three millimeters deep. Anything deeper and you have the beginning stages of gum disease.

Deep pockets are caused by an overabundance of bacteria and can form if the teeth aren’t regularly cleaned. While brushing and flossing on a daily basis can help remove the majority of food debris in your mouth, sometimes minute particles will be left behind. Only a dental checkup can eliminate the areas of plaque and tartar that can build up over the course of a few months.

What Does a Dental Deep Clean Entail?

dental deep clean usually requires a separate appointment as it can take upwards of 45 minutes per quadrant in your mouth. There are four quadrants that need to be cleaned: lower left, lower right, upper left, and upper right. Depending on the extent of the cleaning that needs to be done, it may require multiple appointments to treat all four quadrants.

The dentist will use a set of small surgical grade metal probes and scrapers to physically remove the tartar and plaque from your teeth and gums. He will carefully poke and prod and scrape until he’s confident the tartar and plaque have been removed from the area.

If the process sounds a bit uncomfortable, well, it kind of is. This is why dentists will use a local anesthetic to numb the areas where he will be cleaning.

If the patient suffers from anxiety issues or would like something to make the procedure a bit more bearable, the dentist can prescribe specific medication to help alleviate the unpleasantness of the cleaning process.

What Happens if You Don’t Keep Dental Appointments?

Root scaling and planing is a necessary process. It’s the last line of defense people have before their early stages of gum disease turn into a much more serious condition called periodontitis. If this condition occurs, their immune system will start to attack bone and tissue in the mouth because the inflammation of the gums is so severe.

If the periodontitis worsens, it can result in massive toothaches and teeth needing to be pulled. While a dental deep cleaning can temporarily halt that process, the plaque and tartar will return if the person doesn’t take a more proactive role in their dental hygiene.

Periodontitis causes irreversible bone loss which can give bacteria even more places to hide and grow. Regular brushing and flossing will completely miss these areas. This is why some people will require multiple deep cleanings over the course of several months. In some situations, the dentist may require more than one deep cleaning per year until the situation has stabilized.

How Much Do Deep Cleanings Cost?

The only downside to deep cleanings is that they require heavy manual labor on the part of the dentist. There are no shortcuts, nor automated machines that can speed up the cleaning process. Scraping plaque and tartar off teeth is not easy, and this is why it can take upwards of 45 minutes for each of the four quadrants of your mouth.

It’s impossible to say what the deep cleaning will cost until the dentist has evaluated the patient's mouth and determined a plan of action. The good news is that most dental insurance plans will cover a portion of the deep cleaning. Once the dentist has given you a treatment plan, you can take that information back to your insurance company, and they will tell you exactly what they will cover.

Dental Deep Cleanings in Chicago

If you haven’t had a checkup in over a year, or you have been lax on keeping up with brushing and flossing, you owe it to your health to make an appointment for a dental deep cleaning.

Give us a call today at (312) 787-2131 to schedule an appointment for your dental deep cleaning. At Water Tower Dental Care, our gentle and caring dentists will help clean your teeth and make your smile look like a million bucks!

​Digital X-Rays vs. Traditional X-Rays

September 27th, 2018

digital x-rays vs traditional The very first X-ray machine was invented in 1895 by a German physicist named Wilhelm Röntgen. The medical community immediately saw the benefits and started using X-rays to diagnose and treat their patients.

The only problem was that back in those days medical science didn’t quite understand just how dangerous X-rays were. Many people died or suffered as a result of being accidentally given too high a dosage of radiation.

As the decades passed, X-ray technology grew in leaps and bounds and became much safer. In fact, many dentists are fond of reminding their patients that they will get a higher dose of radiation flying from Los Angeles to New York than they would with a single chest X-ray.

Nowadays many doctors and dentists are using a technology called “digital X-rays.” We’re going to look at a traditional and digital X-ray and see which one is better and offers more value for the comfort and safety of the patient.

Traditional X-Rays

This form of an X-ray machine has been in use for many decades. The process to take a conventional X-ray is very similar to the old cameras that used film (instead of memory cards like they do nowadays).

The dental assistant will place a lead vest over the chest of the patient and then point the X-ray machine at a specific spot in their mouth. A film-like material will be placed in the area in the mouth that the dentist wants to get a look at.

Once everything is set up, the assistant will temporarily leave the room and press a button that sends X-ray waves through the person’s jaw, which are captured on the film inside their mouth. The entire process is painless and happens in a fraction of a second.

The assistant will then remove the film and take it to a processing room. It will take several minutes for the X-ray film to process and be developed. At this point the dentist will take the X-ray picture and put it on a backlit board which enables him to see inside your teeth/jaw.

Digital X-rays

If traditional X-rays can be compared to an old 35mm camera from the 1990’s, then a digital X-ray can be likened to a digital camera from today.

The general process to take a digital X-ray is still the same as the traditional way, but instead of film that needs to be developed, the X-ray image is captured digitally and sent to a computer where it will immediately be able to be viewed.

You won’t have to wait 15 or so minutes for the film to process because there is no film, to begin with.

The Processing Difference – Digital X-rays don’t require processing time. The images are immediately available to be viewed on a computer screen once the X-ray is taken. This not only saves time but money as well.

Traditional X-rays require expensive photo processing equipment that contains caustic and hazardous chemicals that are needed to develop the picture.

By going digital, dental offices are also helping to save the environment because digital X-rays don’t require dangerous chemicals.

The Radiation Difference – Less radiation is required to create a digital X-ray than a traditional one. Patients will be getting 70% less radiation exposure with digital versus conventional. While traditional X-rays are still safe, the less radiation you’re exposed to annually, the better.

Storage – It’s cost prohibitive for the dentist to make more than one copy of a traditional X-ray. If you lose or accidentally damage the picture, you’ll need to have another one taken. With digital X-rays, images are stored inside a computer.

This means that if your dentist refers you to a specialist, the X-ray images can be digitally emailed to their office. No need to lug around delicate photos that could be damaged or smudged.

Image Quality – Digital X-rays show 256 shades of grey whereas traditional ones only show 16- 25 shades of grey. This means that the dentist will have a much clearer image to look at because it’s higher definition than the traditional one. This means that there is little chance of the dentist misdiagnosing because of a low-resolution image.

The digital image can also be enhanced (contrast and brightness) so that the dentist can clearly see what he’s looking at. Traditional X-rays can be fuzzy at times and in some cases, more X-rays will need to be taken because the image quality isn’t that great.

Cost – The only drawback to digital X-rays is the initial cost of the machine as most dental offices cannot afford it. Over time, the machine saves both time and money and is way more environmentally friendly than the traditional one.

Dental Office in Chicago

At Water Tower Dental Care, we have state-of-the-art digital X-ray machines that make taking dental X-rays safe and easy. Our dentists can instantly show you the X-ray on an overhead monitor and point out areas of interest. If you are in need of a dentist, give us a call at (312) 787-2131 or contact us via our website.