Cosmetic Dental Services in Chicago | Dry Mouth – Not Just a Nuisance

Normal flow of saliva provides lubrication for swallowing and begins the process of digestion while you chew. Saliva also protects your teeth by neutralizing and washing away acids, sugars, and other particles left behind after eating. From time to time, we all experience some amount of dry mouth. Hot weather, exercise, and dehydration can all cause a temporary decrease in saliva production. However, if you have chronic dry mouth, or xerostomia, you could be at risk of serious oral health complications.

Some of the oral health issues commonly associated with dry mouth include:

  • Much higher rates of tooth decay
  • Oral yeast infection
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Constant sore throat
  • Soft tissue infections
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Denture discomfort

The most common cause of chronic dry mouth is medication. More than 400 over-the-counter and prescription medications include dry mouth as a frequent side effect. Dry mouth is also associated with stress, autoimmune and other systemic diseases, hormonal changes, radiation or chemotherapy treatment for cancers, and salivary gland disease.

You may find relief from dry mouth through a variety of methods. Some easy options to help alleviate your dry mouth include:

  • Increased water intake
  • Sugar-free candies or gum
  • Artificial saliva, as recommended by doctor or dentist
  • Alcohol-free mouthwash
  • Limiting alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated soft drinks
  • Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home
  • Change in medication, only as directed by doctor

Brush and floss regularly to help prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other complications.

If you are experiencing dry mouth, make an appointment and be sure to tell our team. We will review your medications and perform a thorough dental exam to check for any potential underlying oral health issues.

 

Dentist in South Loop Chicago | 7 Ways to Get Your Calcium Dairy-Free

Calcium is an important mineral for building strong, healthy teeth, but not everyone can tolerate the lactose found in dairy. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. About 65% of people have reduced ability to process lactose past infancy.

If you have difficulty with lactose but want to ensure you are getting the calcium you need, consider one of these non-dairy sources of natural calcium.

  1. Canned seafood, such as sardines and salmon, can be a good source of calcium. These inexpensive options actually contain more calcium than their fresh counterparts. Canned seafood contains small, soft, edible bones that are generally unnoticeable but can be a great way to add calcium to a salad or other dish.
  2. Calcium-fortified juices are available in both orange and cranberry varieties. These juices taste the same as non-fortified options, but contain a substantial amount of calcium. Check the label to ensure it is a calcium-fortified juice.
  3. Soy, rice, and almond milks offer added calcium and can be used as a milk substitute for many dishes. Experiment with different varieties to determine which flavor you like the most for each use. Try one of these milk alternatives on cereal or use in a cooked dish in place of regular milk. Soy, rice, and almond milks are available in a variety of flavors, including plain, sweetened, unsweetened, vanilla, and other options.
  4. Beans are a calcium-rich food. Black-eyed peas and baked beans are particularly high in calcium.
  5. Green vegetables are a good source of natural calcium. Collard, mustard, turnip, and dandelion greens, Chinese cabbage, spinach, kale, okra, and broccoli are all great choices for adding calcium to your diet.
  6. Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, or Brazil nuts are strong sources of calcium. Flaxseeds and sunflower seeds are a great snack or salad additive with calcium. Almond butter, cashew butter, and pumpkin seed butter are a fun and calcium-rich alternative to peanut butter.
  7. Breakfast cereals are highly fortified with several vitamins and minerals, including calcium. Old-fashioned rolled oatmeal adds calcium to your breakfast as well.

Calcium is important for developing and maintaining strong teeth and bones. If you have trouble with dairy, don’t let that stop you from consuming your recommended amount of daily calcium.

For more information that can improve your oral health, contact our office.

 

South Loop Dentist | The Scary Link Between Childhood Obesity and Gum Disease

More than half of all adults over 30 have gum disease. These findings were from a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adults are not the only group impacted by gum disease. In fact, new research has uncovered a startling link between childhood who are obesity and gum disease.

Understanding the Numbers

A study published in Diabetes Care found that just under 99% of children who were classified as obese had some degree of gum disease or inflammation. A separate group of children classified as overweight were also studied. In this group, 85% of children had some degree of gum disease. This study is among the first of its kind examining the link between childhood obesity and gum disease. However these results are similar to a range of findings in past studies covering adults.

Combating Gum Disease

Gum disease can be challenging to identify at first because you might not even know your child has it. Mild types of gum disease, such as gingivitis, can sometimes go unnoticed. Without proper treatment, gum disease and inflammation can become more severe and more difficult to treat. Early detection and prevention are the keys to a healthy mouth. Gum disease can lead to bad breath and swollen or bloody gums. In its most advanced stages, gum disease can lead to tooth loss as the infected gums recede.

Keeping Your Child Healthy

The most important step you can take is to maintain an active role in ensuring your child practices proper oral hygiene. Make sure they are brushing their teeth for two minutes twice each day. Flossing is essential to keeping gums healthy. Anti-bacterial mouthwashes are also an option for extra protection against plaque buildup. If your child is overweight, consult your pediatrician. Keep up with regular visits to our office. Our team is trained in identifying gum inflammation. We can help your child stay on track for maintaining optimal oral health.

While this particular study is one of the first of its kind, it does mimic the extensive research correlating obesity and gum disease in adults. These alarming findings underscore the importance of maintaining healthy habits and keeping up with oral hygiene.

For more information on keeping your child’s mouth healthy or to schedule a visit, please contact us.

 

 

Dentist South Loop | Are Your Drinks Attacking Your Teeth?

 

If carbonated soft drinks are part of your normal daily routine, you may be causing serious damage to your teeth. Recent studies have found soft drinks to be among the most potent dietary causes of tooth decay. Soft drinks have also been implicated in increases of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other serious health conditions. Before you shop for beverages this week, consider a few things you should know about soft drinks.

Most soft drinks contain substantial amounts of sugars, which interact with the bacteria in your mouth. This interaction produces a form of acid that can damage your teeth for about 20 minutes. Each time you take a drink, you reset that time window. If you consume throughout the day, you are essentially bathing your teeth in that beverage for hours.

Most soft drinks contain acids, as well. Even sugar-free varieties contain acids that can weaken the enamel on your teeth. Colas and citrus-flavored soft drinks tend to have the highest levels of acid. Over time, this weakening of tooth enamel has a cumulative effect. This can lead to decay and even tooth loss if not addressed in early stages.

Obviously, the best solution is to stop consuming carbonated soft drinks. However, it can be a difficult habit to break. Here are some tips to help reduce your risks of tooth damage from these beverages:

  • Drink in moderation. Too much sugar and acid will eventually cause damage.
  • Try sparkling water. This provides the fizzy sensation without all the sugar and acid.
  • Drink more water. You will crave soft drinks less when you are fully hydrated.
  • Don’t sip. The longer you spend drinking, the more time sugars and acids are reacting with your teeth.
  • Use a straw. This can help keep the sugars and acids away from your teeth.
  • Rinse with water after drinking to dilute acids and sugars.
  • Don’t brush immediately. Wait at least 30 minutes for acids to be neutralized by saliva before brushing.
  • Practice good dental hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular professional cleanings and exams.

Carbonated soft drinks can be harmful to your oral and overall health. Be mindful of how often you consume them and consider reducing or stopping your use of these dangerous beverages.

For more oral health tips or to schedule an appointment, contact our office.

 

South Loop Chicago Dentist | Understanding Periodontal Disease

Maintaining your gum health is vital to your overall health. When you visit our office for an examination, our trained hygienists perform a periodontal exam. In fact, during your examination, our team is quietly assessing your oral health by performing a number of checks. Here’s what you need to know about periodontal disease.

Many Names, One Illness

You may have heard periodontal disease referred to as gum disease or gingivitis. Periodontal disease is the inflammation and infection of your gums. These names are frequently used interchangeably.

Signs & Symptoms

Periodontal disease may be marked by swollen and red gums. Bleeding, especially while brushing and flossing, may also occur. Another symptom of periodontal disease is persistent bad breath. If you experience any of these symptoms regularly, please contact our office.

Periodontal Disease Can Impact Your Overall Health

Your gum health is linked to your overall health. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to bleeding gums, gum recession, and tooth loss. The effects of periodontal disease extend well beyond your mouth. In fact, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, the disease can increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

While you may think of your teeth as the primary reason to visit our office for a regular examination, understand that our team is looking beyond your teeth to assess your oral health and potential impacts on your overall health. Talk to our experienced team if you experience any signs or symptoms of periodontal disease. Our team is trained to identify signs of periodontal disease. When detected early and managed properly, periodontal disease is treatable.

For more information regarding your gum health, please contact our office, or schedule a visit to see us.

 

South Loop Dentist | Dentistry – Past, Present, and Future

“Tooth worms” are the cause of tooth decay. That was the headline of a Sumerian text from around 5,000 B.C.E. Fortunately, the dental industry has evolved since then and we know “tooth worms” don’t exist. Here’s how dentistry has evolved into the comfortable, safe, and beneficial science of today.

In the Beginning

Did you know that the ancient Egyptians had designated doctors for teeth? Evidence has been uncovered suggesting the Chinese used acupuncture to treat pain associated with tooth decay as early as 2700 B.C.E.

Additionally, in 500 B.C.E., Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote of treating teeth and oral diseases by using sterilization procedures and red-hot wires. They also spoke of using these red-hot wires to stabilize jaw fractures and bind loose teeth.

The Visionary Thoughts of the 1600s-1700s

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, the 1600s and 1700s were a gold mine of innovation in the dental world. In 1695, Charles Allen published the first ever English dental textbook entitled The Operator of Teeth. In the book, he advises using a homemade toothpaste from powdered coal, rose-water, and “dragon’s blood” to keep teeth clean and white. Allen also suggests using dog’s teeth for transplants and even references wisdom teeth in his book.

In the 18th century, Pierre Fauchard was well ahead of his time in the medical practice when his master work The Surgeon Dentist was published. For the first time, dentistry was described as a modern profession. Some notable highlights in the book include sugar being the cause of dental caries (cavities), braces being used to correct teeth position, and the concept of a dentist’s chair light.

The Progressive 1800s

The discoveries and inventions of the 1800s were significant. In 1816, Auguste Taveau developed the first form of dental fillings made out of silver coins and mercury. In 1840, Horace Wells demonstrated the use of nitrous oxide to sedate patients and Thomas Morton employed the use of ether anesthesia for surgery.

That same year, Horace Hayden and Chapin Harris boosted modern dentistry by opening the first dental school, inventing the modern doctorate of dental surgery, and starting the first dental society. By the end of the 1800’s, porcelain inlays, the first mechanized dental drill, and the toothpaste tube had all been invented.

Scientific Advancement of the 1900s

The scientific development of the 1900s gave birth to some amazing advancements in the dental industry. Electric drills became available due to the invention of electricity. In 1907, precision case fillings made by a “lost wax” casting machine was invented to fill cavities, and Novocain was introduced into US dental offices.

In 1955, Michael Buonocore described the method of tooth bonding to repair cracked enamel on teeth. Years later, the first fully-reclining dental chair is introduced to put patients and dentists at ease.  By the 1990s, “invisible” braces were introduced, along with the first at-home tooth bleaching system.

What Will the Future of Dentistry Hold?

Today, dental professionals are investigating the links between oral health and overall health. The use of gene-mediated therapeutics to alter the genetic structure of teeth to increase resistance to tooth decay is receiving attention. Some researchers believe that there may be a way to grow a new tooth structure around weakened enamel. Only time will tell what the future of dentistry will bring, but our office is dedicated to seeking the most effective modern technologies as they arise.

Schedule your visit to our office and experience what modern dentistry can do for you.

 

 

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.