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

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Posts for: May, 2012

By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
May 30, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sinus pain  
TooMuchPressureHowtoWardOffSinusPain

If you engage in frequent air travel, you have probably experienced pain in your ears and sinuses related to pressure changes. The pain is caused by “barotraumas” (from baro meaning pressure — also the root of the word “barometer” — and trauma meaning injury) and is also called a “squeeze.” Divers also sometimes experience this discomfort or pain.

The cause of barotraumas is air pressure (or water pressure, in the case of divers) on the outside of your body that is not equal to the pressure inside your body. Normally when pressure outside your body changes, your organs such as your blood, bones, and muscles transmit the changes equally from outside to inside. Some structures in your body, such as your middle ear spaces and your sinus cavities (spaces in the facial bones of the skull), don't transmit the pressure as well because they are filled with air and have rigid walls. The maxillary (upper jaw) sinuses are pyramid-shaped spaces in the bone located below your eyes, on either side of your nose.

You have probably tried to stop such pain in your ears by yawning, chewing, or moving your jaw back and forth. These maneuvers, called “clearing,” allow air to move from the back of your throat into your ear canals so that the pressure can equalize. Similarly, your sinuses have small openings near their lower borders, so that you can clear pressure changes within them. If you have a head cold or flu and the membranes lining your sinuses are swollen and inflamed, they may close off the openings and make it difficult to clear these spaces. This can sometimes lead to intense pain.

Because the lower walls of these sinuses are adjacent to your upper back teeth, these teeth share the same nerves as the maxillary sinuses. This sharing sometimes causes pain felt in your back teeth to be perceived as pain in the sinuses, or vice versa. Pain felt a distance from its actual stimulus because of shared nerves is called “referred pain.”

Be sure to make an appointment with us if you experience pain in any of your teeth. Any defect in a filling or tooth can allow air to enter the tooth. It could be referred pain from your sinuses, or the result of pressure changes on trapped air within a filling or a tooth. Such pain, called barodontalgia (from baro meaning pressure, don't meaning tooth, and algia meaning pain) is an early sign of injury in a tooth.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth and sinus pain. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Pressure Changes Can Cause Tooth & Sinus Pain.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
May 22, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
6FAQsAboutOrthodontics

Maybe you had braces as a child, or you are thinking of having your own (it's never too late) or your child's teeth straightened through orthodontia. But how much do you really know about this branch of dentistry? Here are six questions people often ask about orthodontia.

Q. How did the word “orthodontia” originate?
A. From Latin roots meaning “straight” and “teeth”

Q. Teeth are anchored in bone. How is it possible to move them?
A. Living bone is not unchanging. The bone, ligament, and the outer layer of a tooth's root (called cementum) react to the stresses of biting and chewing. Due to this stimulation the bone is constantly being resorbed (broken down) and rebuilt as it is pushed from one side of a tooth and pulled from the other. Under normal conditions, there is a balance resulting in a steady state. Orthodontia takes advantage of this process to slowly change the teeth's position in the desired way.

Q. My dentist talks about the periodontal ligament. What does this mean?
A. The ligament is a fibrous tissue that connects the teeth to their bone and takes part in the dynamic process of resorption and rebuilding of the bone.

Q. What kinds of conditions can orthodontia correct?
A. Treatment can improve the teeth's position and relations to each other (being too crowded or badly spaced) and the way the upper and lower jaws relate. It can enhance the appearance of a person's teeth and face, and can also improve the teeth's function in biting and chewing.

Q. What is the best first step to orthodontic treatment?
A. Talk to your general dentist about your concerns. If you are referred to an orthodontist, the next step is to assess your situation using molds of your teeth that show the way the upper and lower teeth meet (your bite). Special x-rays will be taken to show the locations of your teeth and relation of your upper and lower jaw. Your dental team may also use photographs of your smile and computer imaging to get a clear view of how your teeth are now and how they may be moved.

Q. What are some of the methods of treatment?
A. In the traditional method, small metal brackets are attached to the crowns of the teeth. Thin wires, called arch wires, are strung through attachments on the brackets. These wires are used to apply controlled force to direct the teeth in the desired direction. Another method is to use removable clear plastic aligners. A series of aligners is designed by a computer, to be changed from one to the next as the positions of the teeth slowly change.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about braces and orthodontia. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Moving Teeth with Orthodontics” and “The Magic of Orthodontics.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
May 14, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
VeneersNotJustforWoodworking

You may have heard the term “veneer” with reference to woodworking, where it means a thin layer of attractive wood that covers and enhances the surface of a piece of furniture. Exactly the same principle applies to porcelain veneers used in dentistry: A thin layer of ceramic material is used to cover parts of a tooth in order to improve its structure and appearance.

Porcelain is a non-metallic ceramic material that is fired in an oven at a high temperature to make it hard and durable. Dental porcelain veneers are thin layers of ceramic that can be applied to the outside of the tooth so that the end result mimics the natural color and translucency of tooth enamel. The underlying tooth structure has to be prepared by removing a small amount of the enamel, about 1 mm, which the veneer replaces. The veneer is then bonded to the prepared surface using a light-sensitive resin.

In woodworking, a veneer may be used to match the grain between the left and right sides of a piece of furniture, creating a beautiful effect on a curve, or simply to bring the appearance of expensive wood to a backing that is less expensive.

Just as a wood veneer improves the appearance of a dresser or table, porcelain laminate veneers may be used to improve teeth that have a number of cosmetic and functional problems. These include staining that cannot be removed by tooth whitening, teeth that are too small, misshapen, chipped or spaced too far apart. After an assessment of your teeth and your smile, we can create a mock-up using temporary tooth-colored materials so you can decide whether the suggested changes will work for you, or you can make suggestions for further improvements.

Porcelain laminate veneers may not be the best solution for you if your teeth are severely stained or damaged. In cases where a large proportion of the original tooth must be replaced, porcelain crowns may be the best solution. The crown is the part of the tooth that is visible above the gum line, and it can be covered with a porcelain crown that looks exactly like a tooth in shape and color. After studying your needs, together we can decide on the most satisfactory method to restore your most attractive smile.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about porcelain veneers. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Crowns and Veneers.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
May 06, 2012
Category: Oral Health
FactsAboutDentalInjuriesFromSports

No one participates in sports or recreational activities with the goal of oral or facial injury. However, the facts reveal two things: sports injuries are the number one cause, impacting thousands of adults and children annually and many of them can be prevented or at least minimized with education and the use of a properly fitted professional mouthguard.

In addition to the obvious negative of the physical injury to the mouth and face, oral-facial injuries can also be both emotional and psychological. And while these injuries can occur due to a multitude of reasons, a recent study found that approximately 25% occur while playing sports. The following poignant facts should raise your awareness of dental injuries.

Did you know…?

  • On average, 22,000 dental injuries occur annually in children under the age of 18.
  • Outdoor activities and products are associated with the largest number of dental injuries to baby (primary) teeth in children aged 7 to 12 with 50% of these incidents related to bicycle accidents.
  • Outdoor activities and products are also associated with the largest number of dental injuries to permanent teeth in adolescents aged 13 to 17.
  • Of all sports, baseball and basketball consistently produce the largest number of dental injuries each year.
  • Over 80% of all dental injuries involve the upper front teeth.
  • Age, gender, condition and position of the teeth, as well as the type of sport being played are all key risk factors associated with the likelihood of experiencing a sports injury.
  • Studies show that teenage boys involved in contact sports, collision sports, and high-velocity non-contact sports are at the highest risks for dental injuries.
  • Young girls are starting to participate in many of these same sports, and thus their risks for injuries are climbing.
  • Home furniture is the main culprit in over 50% of the dental injuries in children under the age of 7.

We encourage you to take a moment to assess your own as well as your family's risk of dental injury and to think about how you can treat and prevent them. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor article, “An Introduction To Sports Injuries & Dentistry.” Or, feel free to contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule a consultation.