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

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Posts for: February, 2014

By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
February 24, 2014
Category: Oral Health
ThickorThinYourGumsNeedtobeProtected

While hygiene and regular dental care go a long way to reduce your risk of oral disease and disorders, you’re still subject to your heredity. Everything from tooth alignment to the shape of your jaws is determined by your genes.

So is the biological structure of your gum tissue. Aside from minute variations, gum tissue structure falls into two broad categories — “thin” or “thick,” which refer to the actual thickness of the tissue and the underlying bone. The tooth’s appearance is the best indicator of which type you may have: those with more triangular-shaped tooth (often called scalloped) have thin gum tissue; a person with a squarer appearance (flat) has thick gum tissue. People of Asian descent tend to have thin/scalloped tissue while those with European or African heritage tend to have thick/flat tissues.

Thick gum tissue isn’t superior to thin, or vice-versa. In fact, each type is susceptible to certain types of diseases or adverse conditions.

Thin tissues are more susceptible to the occurrence of receding gums. Caused mainly by periodontal disease and toothbrush abrasion, the gum tissue recedes and exposes more of the unprotected tooth surface that should be below the gum line. This increases the risk of decay and tooth loss. Patients with thick tissue, on the other hand, have a higher risk of developing a condition known as “pocketing.” As the thicker gum tissue becomes inflamed from dental plaque, it loses its attachment to the teeth and forms a small pocket. The end result is possible bone and tooth loss.

There’s not much you can do about which type of gum tissue you have, for which you can thank (or blame!) your ancestors. But there’s something you can do to reduce your risk of periodontal disease. First and foremost, you should practice good daily hygiene, brushing with a soft-bristled tooth brush and gentle flossing. It’s also important to maintain regular cleanings and checkups in our office; not only will this ensure complete plaque and tartar removal, but gives us a better chance to detect either receding gums or pocketing early. Earlier detection can mean better treatment outcomes — and a saved smile.

If you would like more information on genetic types of periodontal tissues, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Genetics & Gum Tissue Types.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
February 21, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
HowDoILookAfterMyNewPorcelainVeneers

You've just had porcelain laminate veneers placed on your teeth to improve their appearance, color and shape. Now what? How do you maintain them and keep them looking their best?

A dental porcelain veneer is a thin layer of porcelain that is bonded to a tooth, replacing the enamel (the outermost layer of a tooth). Dental porcelain is a glass-like substance that can be used to mimic natural tooth enamel perfectly because of its bright, reflective and translucent (see-through) qualities.

To look after your veneers, it is important to maintain the health of the teeth on which they were placed, and of the surrounding gums.

  • About a week after your veneers have been placed, return to our office so that we can check them to make sure they are functioning well.
  • Brush and floss regularly using non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste; make sure you remove biofilm, the film of bacteria that collects on the teeth, every day. Flossing or brushing will not harm your veneers.
  • We recommend regular dental checkups to review the state of your veneers and your dental health in general.

Porcelain is a ceramic glass-like material, and like glass it is strong but brittle and can fracture when placed under too much stress.

  • You can eat almost all foods without harming your veneers, but avoid biting into hard things like candy apples.
  • Many people habitually grind or clench their teeth. If you are one of them, let us know. We can make a protective bite guard that you can wear to reduce stress placed on your teeth (and your veneers) while you sleep.

With good dental hygiene, and regular dental check-ups porcelain veneers can last from seven to twenty years or even longer. This makes them a good solution that will improve your smile for years to come.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about porcelain laminate veneers. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Smile Design Enhanced with Porcelain Veneers.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
February 13, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   saliva  
SalivaisaKeyIngredientinOralHealth

When you think of saliva, the word “amazing” probably doesn’t come to mind. But your life and health would be vastly different without this “wonder” fluid at work in your mouth.

Saliva originates from a number of glands located throughout the mouth. The largest are a pair known as the parotids, located just under the ears on either side of the lower jaw, which produce a thin and watery liquid. The sublingual glands under the tongue produce thicker saliva with a mucous secretion; the saliva from the submandibular glands located under the lower jaw has a consistency somewhere between that of the parotids and the sublingual glands. All these different consistencies of saliva combine to produce a fluid rich in proteins, enzymes, minerals and antibodies.

Saliva performs at least five basic functions in the mouth. First, it washes away food particles after eating and reduces the amount of sugar available for decay-causing bacteria to consume. It protects and disinfects the mouth with antibodies, proteins and enzymes that fight against and help prevent the growth of bacteria. Saliva neutralizes high acidity levels in the mouth, necessary to prevent enamel erosion from acid; and when enamel has softened due to acidity (de-mineralization), the calcium and other minerals in saliva help restore some of the enamel’s lost minerals (re-mineralization). Saliva also aids in digestion by lubricating the mouth and helping the body break down starches in food with its enzymes.

In recent years, scientists have also gained insight into another property of saliva that promises better disease diagnosis in the future. Like blood and urine, saliva contains biological markers for disease. As more diagnostic machines calibrated to these specific markers are developed and used, it could signal a more effective way to identify conditions from saliva samples that are easier to collect than other bodily fluids.

Its less than glamorous image aside, your mouth would be quite a different (and unhealthy) place without saliva. And, developments in diagnostics could make this unsung fluid even more valuable in maintaining your health.

If you would like more information on the importance of saliva to oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Secrets of Saliva.”


February 05, 2014
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

The weather conditions today are treacherous to say the least.  Please take caution in any and all modes of transportation this morning, afternoon and evening. 


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
February 05, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal   tooth decay  
UnderstandingtheSignsandSymptomsofToothDecayandaDiseasedRootCanal

Tooth decay can be relentless: left untreated it can work its way into a tooth’s inner core — the pulp chamber or better known as the root canal. Once this occurs, the best course of action to save the tooth may be a root canal treatment to clean out the diseased pulp (nerve) and seal the canal from further decay.

So, what signs and symptoms might you encounter if decay has invaded a tooth’s root canal? When the pulp is first infected you may experience acute pain; over time, however, the pain may suddenly dissipate. This doesn’t mean the tooth has healed itself — quite the contrary, it may mean the infected pulp tissue, including the nerves, has died. Once the nerves die, they no longer transmit pain signals to the brain.

While the pain may cease, the infection hasn’t and will continue to travel from the end of the tooth root into the bone. At this point, you may encounter pain whenever you bite on the tooth. This time the pain is originating in nerves located in the periodontal ligament that surrounds the tooth root and joins the tooth with the jawbone. This can lead to an acute abscess (with accompanying pain) or a chronic abscess that may have no pain symptoms at all. As the decay progresses you may eventually suffer bone and tooth loss.

The important point here is that you may or may not notice all the signs and symptoms that indicate deep decay within a tooth. That’s why it’s important to undergo a thorough dental examination if you have any symptoms at all, especially acute pain that “mysteriously” disappears.

A root canal treatment and removal of the decayed tooth structure will stop the progress of tooth decay and preserve the tooth. The longer you delay, though, the greater the risk your tooth will eventually lose the battle with tooth decay and infection will continue to spread.

If you would like more information on root canal treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Signs and Symptoms of a Future Root Canal.”