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

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Posts for: April, 2012

By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
April 28, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral cancer  
RegularDentalExamsAreKeytoReducingYourRiskofOralCancer

Oral cancer is on the rise in the United States, yet few people are familiar with the disease and its risk factors. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) estimates that 35,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year. The good news is that prevention and early detection can greatly reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer Include:

  • Tobacco: Smoking and using chewing tobacco have been shown to increase the risk of developing oral cancer.
  • HPV virus: The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the same virus linked to cervical cancer and genital warts. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF), many young people and women are being diagnosed with oral cancer as a result of exposure to the HPV virus.
  • Age: Although it occurs more frequently in people over the age of 40, the incidence is increasing in younger people.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Oral cancer is six times more common in those who drink alcohol excessively.
  • Diet: People who consume lots of red and processed meat and fried foods are at greater risk.

Symptoms: Alert our office if you notice a change in your mouth such as a sore that doesn't heal or bleeds easily; a lump, thickening, crust or erosion; pain or tenderness; or a change in the way your teeth are positioned. Our office can administer an easy, painless test that detects abnormal cells.

Other symptoms may include unexplained bleeding or numbness in the mouth, difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking, hoarseness, chronic sore throat or changes in your voice.

Importance of Dental Screenings: In its early stages, oral cancer can often go unnoticed, but visiting our office regularly can ensure that any cancerous cells are detected and treated early. Our office will check your tongue and the area under your tongue, as well as your lips and palate and the back of your mouth.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions that you may have regarding oral cancer. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer: This Article May Save Your Life.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
April 20, 2012
Category: Oral Health
NineThingstoExpectDuringYourAppointmentwiththeDentalHygienist

We say that we are going to have our teeth cleaned — but a lot more than simple cleaning takes place during a visit to a dental hygienist.

  1. Health History
    Your hygienist will ask you about your general health and your dental health and any recent changes in either. By doing so she will pinpoint any issues that require special precautions during your cleaning.
  2. Cancer Screening
    Next, the hygienist carefully examines the skin in and around your mouth looking for lumps, bumps, sores, tenderness or swellings and refers areas of concern to the dentist for further evaluation. The hygienist is one of the few people who get to closely assess your whole mouth, so she is trained to spot cancer and other diseases.
  3. Evaluating Your Periodontal Health
    Your hygienist will look closely at the state of your periodontal health (from peri meaning around and dont meaning tooth). This includes checking your gums and the other tissues surrounding your teeth for inflammation (gingivitis) or bleeding.
  4. Checking for Decay
    The hygienist will examine your teeth for decay and will note the location and condition of stains or hard mineral deposits (calculus or tartar). These deposits result from a buildup of plaque (a film of bacteria) that has not been removed by daily brushing.
  5. Scaling
    The hygienist uses hand tools or a sonic scaler to remove the calculus from your teeth.
  6. Polishing
    A mechanical polisher and an abrasive polishing compound are used to polish the surface of your teeth so that they are smooth, making them more resistant to plaque, removing stains and leaving your teeth feeling squeaky clean.
  7. Measuring
    The hygienist uses a tiny probe to measure the space between your teeth and gums. Periodontal disease begins by forming pockets between the teeth and gums, so this measuring is key to your periodontal health. Generally a space of 3mm or less indicates healthy gums, pockets of 4 to 5mm indicate periodontal disease that may be reversed with good oral care at home, and pockets that are 6mm deep or more require specialized treatment by a dentist or periodontist (a dentist who specializes in care of gums).
  8. Education
    Based on the observed conditions of your gums and teeth, the hygienist will provide information aimed at improving your home oral cleansing routines and about your risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
  9. Making Your Next Appointment
    The hygienist will make an appointment for your next cleaning — in three, four, or six months depending on the health of your gums and teeth. Keeping these appointments not only keeps your teeth looking their best, but it also assures good management of your dental health.
  10. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about dental hygiene. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Hygiene Visit.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
April 12, 2012
Category: Oral Health
CommonQuestionsAboutBadBreath

Considering that over 90 million Americans suffer from chronic bad breath and everyone else has dealt with some form of it at one time or another, we want to address some common causes and cures so you are prepared if it happens to you.

What are the most common causes of bad breath?

Halitosis or bad breath most often occurs when you have poor oral hygiene and/or routinely consume odorous foods and drinks. In fact, 90% percent of mouth odors come from the food you eat or bacteria that’s already there, according to the American Dental Association. Other causes for halitosis include:

  • Excessive bacterial growth in the mouth and especially on the tongue
  • Known and characteristically odor producing foods and drinks such as onions, garlic, coffee, tobacco and alcohol products
  • Diabetes and diseases of the liver and kidneys
  • A poorly hydrated body (and mouth) from not drinking enough water everyday

What should I do if I feel (or people tell me) I have chronic bad breath?

Contact us to schedule an appointment for a proper diagnosis and plan of action for returning your mouth to optimal health.

What are some tips I can do to prevent occasional bad breath?

In most cases, bad breath is totally preventable when you follow the tips below:

  • Brush your teeth in the morning and at bedtime using a fluoride toothpaste and a proper (and gentle) brushing technique.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day.
  • Clean your tongue after brushing your teeth with either a scraping tool you can purchase at a drug or discount store or by gently brushing it with your toothbrush.
  • Keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of water during the day.
  • Be prepared by having some mouth cleaning tools (floss, a toothbrush, toothpaste or some sugar free gum) handy to freshen your mouth after consuming bad smelling foods, drinks or using tobacco or alcohol.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables to increase saliva production in your mouth and help remove food particles that can lodge between teeth.
  • Maintain regular dental check-ups.

Want to learn more?

Contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about halitosis by reading the Dear Doctor article, “Bad Breath — More than Just Embarrassing.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
April 04, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: braces   retainers  
TheImportanceofOrthodonticRetainers

We'd like to take a moment to clarify why it is so important to wear the retainer(s) given to you after your orthodontic treatment. These devices, which literally “retain” your teeth in their new and improved positions, are not just for kids. Anyone who has recently had their teeth moved through orthodontics needs to wear them for the prescribed length of time. Here's why:

Though your teeth may now look perfectly aligned, research has shown that there is no “right” position for your teeth to be in that can assure they don't move again — no matter what age you are when treated for malocclusion (“mal” – bad; “occlusion” – bite). In fact, most people will see changes to their bite and tooth alignment as they get older, with or without orthodontic treatment.

For one thing, there is a natural tendency for bottom front teeth to undergo a gradual “uprighting” with age. This can cause them to crowd as they move toward the tongue. And it happens regardless of whether wisdom teeth are present.

In the case of teeth that have been straightened recently, a type of “memory” of their original position may cause them to drift back to it. This tendency gradually lessens, but it may be a problem for up to 18 months.

That's why it's crucial to follow our instructions for wearing retainers. Keep in mind that the plan we have given you is designed to achieve the best possible results in your individual case. Some people will need to wear retainers 24 hours per day, some just at night, and still others on an as-needed basis. You may have received a removable retainer or one that is secured to the back of your teeth. The important thing is to secure the results you've worked so hard to achieve.

If you have any questions about orthodontic retainers, please contact us, or schedule an appointment for an orthodontic consultation.

You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers.”