Signature Smiles Dental Care
1128 Lake Street Suite 1
Oak Park, IL 60301
(708) 386-6190

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Posts for: February, 2012

By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
February 16, 2012
Category: Oral Health
WhyDoesMyDentalHygienistAskSoManyQuestions

You just came in to have your teeth cleaned, but our hygienist is asking you about your general state of health and what medications you are taking. Meanwhile you are wondering why she doesn't just get on with the cleaning.

Dental hygienists are health care professionals who are trained and licensed to preserve your general as well as your oral health. That's why our hygienist begins your visit by asking you about your health history. Some health problems or medications may require special precautions during a dental cleaning. A hygienist also needs to know about your dietary history and other general health questions.

Our hygienist will examine the skin in and around your mouth for sores, lumps, and other areas that could be signs of oral cancer or other problems. She is trained to spot this disease and others.

Dental hygiene is individualized to your own situation. There is not a “one size fits all” solution. During your cleaning, our hygienist will also evaluate the health of your gums and teeth, checking for tooth decay and for inflammation (gingivitis) and bleeding. She will measure the space between your teeth and the surrounding gums, looking for pockets that form when the gums detach from the teeth. Such pockets indicate periodontal disease and can lead to serious problems.

After your health assessment and examination, the actual cleaning will begin. Your dental hygienist will remove deposits of plaque and calculus by using a technique called scaling. Plaque is a biofilm, a film of bacteria that builds up on your teeth. The reason you brush and floss every day is to remove this film from the surfaces of your teeth and gums and from between your teeth. Plaque that is not removed hardens into a mineralized substance called tartar or calculus, and this is what the hygienist removes by scaling.

The next step is a polish to remove surface stains from your teeth and to give your teeth the slick feeling that you identify as clean.

Finally, our hygienist will discuss your state of oral health with you and make suggestions for improvement. Most hygiene appointments take about 45 minutes to an hour. As you can see, during this appointment a lot must be done to preserve your oral health.

If you are in need of a dental cleaning, contact our office today to schedule an appointment. You can learn more about your visit to the hygienist by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Hygiene Visit.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
February 08, 2012
Category: Oral Health
FAQWhatYouNeedtoKnowAboutYourChildsBabyTeeth

Losing a baby tooth is an important milestone in a child's life. Be sure to take a photo of that toothless smile — it will be something you treasure as your child grows up.

You may be wondering what is really happening when a baby tooth becomes loose and eventually falls or is pulled out. Read on for some answers.

What are baby teeth?
An infant's teeth begin to form before birth, by the fifth to sixth week after conception. When the baby is born, 20 primary (baby) teeth are almost completely formed inside the jaws. These first teeth, also called deciduous teeth, begin to erupt through the gums at about the time the baby begins to eat solid food. The front teeth (incisors) are usually the first to come in, at age six months to a year.

Why are they called deciduous teeth?
Deciduous means “falling off at maturity.” The same term refers to trees that lose their leaves every fall. In many mammals, including humans, it refers to the first teeth, which need to come out to make room for the larger permanent teeth to come in.

What causes the deciduous teeth to become loose?
While your child is using his primary teeth to bite and chew, his adult (permanent) teeth are quietly growing inside his jawbone. Starting with tooth “germs” (the word comes from germination, meaning the start of growth), the top part of each tooth, called the crown, grows first. Then the bottom part, or root, begins to grow and elongate. As the roots develop and the permanent teeth take up more room in the child's jaw, they begin to push against the baby teeth. This causes the roots of the baby teeth to melt away or resorb. Eventually little or nothing is left to hold the baby teeth inside the child's gums, they become wiggly, and finally they can easily be pulled out. This may leave a little bleeding gum tissue that quickly heals.

What should you watch for in the transition from primary to permanent teeth?
As the permanent teeth erupt (push through the gums and become visible), you may notice that they are too crowded, have too much space between them, or are crooked. It's a good idea to have an orthodontic (from ortho, meaning straight and dont, meaning tooth) evaluation at age five to seven. Watch to see that the baby teeth are lost in the right sequence. If one is lost prematurely, for example from decay, make sure that the space that it occupied is maintained to make room for the adult tooth that will replace it. We can help you with this.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss whether your child's baby teeth are being lost in the right sequence and if the adult teeth are coming in correctly. For more information see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Losing a Baby Tooth.”