Why Are Mouth Guards Important?

Many of us associate mouthguards with Football. However, there are many other sports that can take advantage of the benefits that a mouthguard can provide. Some benefits include:

  • Full and proper coverage of teeth
  • Stays in place without biting down
  • Easier to breath, due to less bulk in unnecessary areas
  • Lasts longer
  • Custom decals and colors available

The obvious purpose is to protect the teeth. A proper fitting mouthguard also helps protects the jaw joint, and neck, by providing a cushion effect that absorbs the impact. It can even reduce the chance of a sports-related concussion. One misstep or an errant elbow on the basketball court could cause a serious injury resulting in the loss of a tooth. A mouthguard can also help runners, by keeping the jaw properly aligned, which can make breathing easier.  We all understand the dangers of riding your bicycle without a helmet. The same consideration should be given, when factoring the benefits of riding with a mouthguard. The lakefront path can be dangerous, especially when it’s crowded. Consider these tips, next time you’re on the bike path.

  • Let users know that you’re passing on the left.
  • Don’t block the trail if you stop or are going with a group.
  • Yield to others when entering, crossing or turning onto trails.
  • Be predictable, but expect other users to be unpredictable.

You should consider purchasing a custom sports mouthguard, over the store bought models. The mouth guards in the store tend to be bulky and can impede breathing. Here at Sloop Dental, we can make a custom impression and shape a mouth guard specifically for you. There are many additional benefits to purchasing a custom mouth guard, and Dr. Allen would be happy to discuss them with you!

Back to School

It’s August and the summer is winding down. Millions of children will soon head into a new school year. Routine dental examinations help ensure that students are in good health before school begins; making it important that you don’t overlook a dental checkup for your child. A dental examination is extremely important and should be a regular part of back-to- school preparations.

The State of Illinois requires children enrolled in kindergarten, 2nd grade, and 6th grade to have and examination done by a licensed dentist. You may visit the Chicago public schools health and wellness portal  for more information.

It also important to note, that more than one-half of all children aged 5 to 9 years have at least one cavity or filling. A painful tooth or chronic dental problem can lead to difficulty eating, speaking and concentrating.

We are available Monday through Friday, 10am to 7pm. Schedule your appointment today, so we can have all of your child’s forms filled out by the first day of school. As the school year approaches, so does our busy season, here at Sloop Dental. If you or anyone in your family is due for their six month cleaning, we suggest you schedule your appointment today!

Best of luck to all of the students, this upcoming school year, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Wisdom Teeth in the Information Age

We hear many different questions, thoughts, and personal beliefs from people concerning their wisdom teeth and thought it would a great opportunity to address this topic on our blog. Whether you still have your wisdom teeth or had them removed years ago this information can be very useful in understanding the truth about these unique teeth amongst the many different popularly held beliefs.

“All wisdom teeth need to be removed as soon as possible.”

While it is true for some people that they need to have their wisdom teeth removed as soon as possible it is also true that some people never need to have their wisdom teeth removed. If the wisdom teeth are properly positioned within the jaw and are kept free of decay and gum disease there is no reason at all to have them removed.

“My wisdom teeth caused my front teeth to be crowded.”

A review completed in 2012 showed the occurrence of crowding of the front teeth occurs in equal numbers for those who have had their wisdom teeth removed vs. people who did not have them removed. The wisdom teeth are not bulldozer teeth that have the ability to push all of the teeth in front of them and cause crowding. Our teeth have a natural tendency to drift towards the middle as a result of the physics of our bite being applied to our teeth. This drift is often first seen around the time that the wisdom teeth first erupt and naturally are associated as the cause of the crowding. However, after many years of research it can be seen that this is just a coincidence.

Is this real life

“You have to be put under general anesthesia for the wisdom teeth to be removed.”

For many people, the removal of wisdom teeth are no different than any other tooth in the mouth and do not require any different procedures. For those with complicated extractions, such as teeth impacted underneath the gum tissue and bone that will require additional techniques it is beneficial to be under general anesthesia. However, for most wisdom teeth they can easily be removed without the additional risks and costs associated with being sedated. Of course in any tooth removal the use of local anesthesia to numb the area completely should be used.

Is this real life

“My wisdom teeth don’t bother me so I don’t need to have them removed.”

This statement can be true for many people; however it is not always the best way to approach a potentially serious health risk. At least once a month we receive an emergency call from an individual in need of immediate care due to pain from their wisdom teeth. In almost every instance the patient had been told previously by a dentist at some point in their life that they needed to have their wisdom teeth removed, but elected not to have it done because it never hurt them. Your wisdom teeth are not going to warn you before they begin hurting and can occur at the most inconvenient times like the night before a wedding or while on vacation which can seriously interfere with your plans. Also, waiting till it hurts can make it difficult to numb the area as well as complicate the healing process due to already increased inflammation and possible infection.

Should I remove my wisdom teeth

“How do I know if my wisdom teeth need to be removed?”

The only way to know is to have an evaluation with your dentist that includes a panographic x-ray. The wisdom teeth need to be evaluated for the presence of any decay or gum disease as well as be evaluated for the risk factors that could lead to disease in those areas. Once this evaluation is completed it also should be determined if these problems can be corrected without removing the teeth or is removal the best long term choice.
x-ray impacted wisdom teeth

Panographic x-ray displaying impacted wisdom teeth.

Dry Mouth: What does it mean?

Although it is a common myth that dry mouth is just par for the course as we age, this is not actually true. For the approximately 20 percent of older adults that experience excessive dry mouth, it can actually be a symptom of a medical condition or a side effect of certain medications, and it can lead to a host of dental problems.
Causes of Dry Mouth
In older adults, dry mouth is most commonly a side effect of certain medications, including:

  • Antihistamines
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Pain pills
  • Decongestants
  • Medications for Overactive Bladder
  • Antidepressants
  • Diuretics
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Medications for Parkinson’s disease
  • Medications for anxiety

Although medication side effects are most often the cause of dry mouth, certain medical conditions can also create dry mouth symptoms. Some of the most common diseases that can contribute to dry mouth include:

  • Autoimmune disorders such as Sjogren’s Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and systematic lupus erythematosus
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Dry mouth can also be attributed to dehydration, which is why it is so important to keep an eye on any older adults you care for, as dehydration is a common issue for the elderly.
Issues Associated with Dry Mouth
We need sufficient saliva in our mouths to wash away food debris and reduce plaque, which is why severe tooth decay and gum disease can occur if dry mouth is left untreated. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 30 percent of all tooth decay in older adults is caused by dry mouth.
Other health issues can also arise if dry mouth is left untreated.
Treating Dry Mouth
There are fortunately many things you can do to treat dry mouth and improve dental health, no matter your age. Your dentist or physician can prescribe medications to help increase saliva production, and regular dental checkups will help your dentist keep an eye out for any dental problems your dry mouth may be causing. There are also several things you can do at home to improve the saliva production in your mouth, including:

  • Chewing sugar free gum or sucking on sugar free mints. This will help fight dry mouth by stimulating saliva production. Look for products that contain xylitol, which is a sugar substitute that can actually help prevent cavities.
  • Brush and floss daily. Proper oral health hygiene will prevent the build up of plaque, which is the sticky layer of bacteria that promotes tooth decay and gum disease. Use a fluoride toothpaste to keep teeth strong.
  • Drink plenty of water. Staying well hydrated will increase saliva production and help keep you healthy in general. Be sure to drink water after eating, and avoid foods that stick to your teeth, such as raisins, crackers, candy, and pretzels.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Discuss your dry mouth issues with your doctor or pharmacist and see if he or she recommends alternate medications that don’t cause dry mouth. They can also recommend products that keep your mouth moist.

Happy New Year!

As we ring in the New Year with celebrations and joy many of us choose to make resolutions to improve our lives for the year ahead. New Year’s resolutions are not often maintained, but it is the optimism of a new year that gives hope to us all. Making a statement about how we wish to improve our lives is a positive influence that we all can use as motivation. To help maintain our resolutions here at Sloop Dental we have decided to announce our 2016 resolutions on our blog so please feel free to ask us about our success or failure at keeping our own resolutions.

Dr. Allen- read 1 book a month for 2016

Amanda- to lose 30 lbs before her wedding in September

Leroy- have more financial independence

Milena- pay off her credit card balance

Let us know what your resolutions are at your next visit. If you need any help finding a resolution, improving your dental health is always an excellent choice!

Back To School

Back to School themed image with chalkboard, books, and apple

Back to school for a lot of families means getting supplies lists organized, buying new clothes and getting those doctor appointments scheduled. Most students returning to school will need a physical by their primary pediatrician as well as a dental examination completed before their return to classes.

As we urge all of our patients to visit us at least twice a year for their dental checkup and cleaning, we want to be available to getting those last minute school checkups for new patients as well! We are available six days a week with convenient evening and weekend appointments. We want to make your child’s checkup as simple as possible, so we have those dental school forms filled out and ready to go as soon as your appointment is completed.

Feel free to contact us over the phone or schedule at your convenience through our website for your child’s checkup and cleaning. Best of luck to all the students on the upcoming school year!

Tooth Fairy Payouts?


For many American children, the tooth fairy can be counted on to make losing a tooth, a very profitable event. So exactly, how much is she putting under pillows these days?

Did you know that, on average, a child in the Midwest receives $2.83 per tooth lost? That may seem like a lot to parents who remember finding a dime or a quarter underneath their pillows. However, compared to the average payout in the Southern states of $5.17, the parents of the Midwest seem to be pretty conservative!

Delta Dental (dental insurance provider) did a survey of more than 1,000 primary caregivers to get the average payout results. They also found that over the period of 1999 to 2014 that the national gift average for the tooth fairy was pretty consistent with the ebbs and flows of the stock market.

So next time your kids ask what they can expect from the tooth fairy…maybe they should start following the stock market. 🙂

Which Medicine Should I Take



Whether you are suffering from a toothache, headache, sore muscles or a fever, do you take the same trusty medicine?

If you are always reaching for your one cure all medication, there are some things you should consider. According to research, you should be taking symptom specific medicine so that you are targeting your discomfort with quickest and most affective result.

As stated in the infographic;

“All medicines are not created equal. Some, like Advil and Aleve, treat swelling and inflammation, while others, like Tylenol, only deal with pain and fever. Some studies suggest that certain drugs, like Aleve, are better at treating what’s known as hard-tissue inflammation, such as bone swelling, while others are more effective at reducing soft –tissue inflammation, like sore muscles and inflamed sinuses.”

Something to think about next time you’re in pain. Remember that not all medicine is created equal!

Soft Drink Dangers


As the weather turns warmer, the temptation to reach for a cold soda instead of water can be a lot more appealing.

“Pop” or soda is one of the leading dietary sources of tooth decay and affects people of all ages. The acid and sugary byproducts that are found in pop soften the tooth’s enamel which attribute to the development of cavities.

The popularity of soft drinks has risen in the United States, especially among children and teenagers. How many school age children drink soft drinks? Estimates range from one in two to more than four in five consuming at least one soft drink a day. At least one in five kids consume a minimum of four servings a day (1).

Some teenagers drink as many as 12 soft drinks a day (2). Long term users are at risk as well, with the cumulative damage having effect on their mouth at some point in their life.

It goes without saying that soft drinks account for more than just damage to your teeth’s enamel. Obesity, increased risk of diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, reproductive issues and even asthma.

The damage that could be done in the long run is far more expensive than the cost of a can of pop. So when in doubt, choose water to keep your body hydrated and healthy!

(1)Gleason P, Suitor C. Childrens diets in the mid 1990s: Dietary intake and its relationship with school meal participation. Alexandria, VA: US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Analysis, Nutrition and Evaluation;2001.

(2)Brimacombe C. The effect of extensive consumption of soda pop on the permanent dentition: A case report. Northwest Dentistry 2001;80:23-25.

A Little Dental History


Historical evidence has shown dentistry being practiced as far back as 7000 BC. This early form of dentistry involved curing tooth related disorders with bow drills (an ancient tool typically used for starting fires). Yikes! Dentist were even filling teeth with beeswax as an early form of a dental filling!

While some of these practices may seem barbaric, they were very advanced for their time considering their limitations with tools and other supplies. During the Middle Ages and throughout the 19th century, dentistry was not a profession in itself, and often dental procedures were performed by barbers or general physicians.

The dental instruments that we use today were adapted tools from watch makers, jewelers and even barbers!

It wouldn’t be until 1867 when Harvard University would found the first university affiliated dental institution.

Dentistry has come a long way and we can all be grateful that the doctors are not using bow drills and beeswax anymore. Thank goodness for modern day advances!