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

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Posts for: August, 2014

By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
August 29, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
OccasionalTongueRednessmaybeIrritatingbutnotaSeriousHealthIssue

If you occasionally notice mildly irritating red patches on the top surface of your tongue, you may be one of the three percent or less of the population with a condition called benign migratory glossitis. It’s also known as “geographic tongue” because the red patches often resemble land masses on a world map.

While the symptoms may be discomforting, geographic tongue isn’t a cause for serious concern. The red patches are caused by the temporary loss of papillae, tiny bumps that grow on the surface of the tongue, which may appear and disappear repeatedly over a short time period (ranging from hours to days). As its medical name implies, this form of glossitis isn’t cancerous or contagious; it’s referred to as “migratory” because the red patches often appear to move around while changing size and shape. An outbreak can cause a mild burning or stinging sensation, and some people also encounter numbness in the patchy areas.

While there isn’t a firm consensus as to geographic tongue’s exact cause, there do appear to be triggers for it including stress, hormonal changes and mineral or vitamin deficiencies (particularly zinc and Vitamin B). There also seems to be a connection with psoriasis, a skin ailment characterized by redness and scaling — a number of people will experience both conditions. Geographic tongue appears more often in middle-aged, non-smoking adults, particularly women during hormonal fluctuations (as during pregnancy or ovulation). Individuals with deep grooves on their tongues called fissures are more susceptible as well.

There’s no cure for the condition, but there are some treatments that can help alleviate any accompanying irritation. Depending on what we find during examination, we may prescribe anesthetic mouthrinses, antihistamines, steroid ointments or other treatments to help manage discomfort. It may also be helpful to limit your intake of foods during outbreaks that may increase irritation, including high acidic foods like tomatoes or citrus fruit, as well as eggplant, mint, spicy foods and alcohol (including certain mouthwashes).

If you experience these occasional patchy outbreaks on your tongue, please schedule a visit with us for a full examination. We may be able to reduce your discomfort and certainly put your mind at ease.

If you would like more information on geographic tongue, 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 “Geographic Tongue.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
August 20, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay  
WarningSugarCanBeDangeroustoyourHealth

Look around and you’ll find warning labels on lots of household items: alcoholic beverages, drain uncloggers, pesticides and pool toys (not to mention cigarettes and chainsaws). Now, California lawmakers are proposing to add one more item to the list: sugary soft drinks. A bill to that effect recently passed the California state Senate, and is presently headed to the Assembly. If approved by both houses and signed by the governor, it would require sugary beverages to carry a warning label.

The proposed label would read: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.” It would appear on drink packaging and vending machines. While some may feel it’s an infringement on personal choice, recent polling seems to show that the tide of public opinion may have turned toward recognizing the potential health dangers of sugary drinks.

How real are those dangers? The medical groups sponsoring the bill (including the California Medical Association) point to numerous scientific studies showing, among other things, that:

  • Drinking one soda per day increases an adult’s likelihood of being overweight by 27 percent — and for a child, the likelihood is doubled!
  • Drinking one or two sodas per day increases the risk of developing type II diabetes by 26 percent.
  • People who drink two to three sodas per day are 2.75 times more likely to have a heart attack.
  • Drinking sugary beverages daily for only two weeks increases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels by 20 percent; over a longer period, it has even worse effects.
  • Children who consume sugary beverages are much more likely to develop tooth decay.

No matter where you stand on the debate over warning labels, you should understand the potential dangers of consuming foods and beverages with added sugar. For years, dentists have been cautioning people to limit their intake of sugary treats, including sodas and other sweets. Initially, our warnings came from the standpoint of oral health. Now, we have evidence that many other health problems have the same cause. We want to share this information with you because we’re concerned about your overall health — not just your oral health. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Think Before You Drink.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
August 15, 2014
Category: Oral Health
ConsciousSedationcanMakeYourChildsDentalVisitMorePleasant

Anxiety in a child during dental procedures could interfere with the care they need. But recent advances in sedation drug therapy can calm pediatric patients safely and allow us to perform more invasive procedures without general anesthesia.

In contrast to general anesthesia, conscious sedation allows a patient to relax and feel calm while still breathing normally on their own and able to respond to certain stimuli. Conscious sedation can be deep, moderate or minimal. Deep sedation is akin to sleep and will also cause the child not to remember details of the procedure when they awaken. At the other end of the spectrum is minimal sedation, the most common type used in pediatric dentistry, which allows patients to respond to touching or verbal commands. Deep sedation drugs are usually administered intravenously, while those used for minimal sedation are administered orally with syrup. Conscious sedation doesn’t prevent pain, so it must also be accompanied by local anesthesia or other pain-relieving methods.

After you arrive for your child’s procedure, we’ll normally conduct a pre-sedation evaluation to be sure there are no medical problems that might interfere with the sedation. We typically use Midazolam (under the brand name Versed) or Hydroxyzine (also known as Vistaril or Atarax) to achieve sedation. Both are very safe, fast-acting and exit the body quickly after treatment.

During the procedure, a designated member of our staff continuously monitors your child’s vital signs, including pulse and respiration rates, blood pressure, temperature, and blood oxygen level. After the procedure your child will remain in recovery until vital signs return to pre-sedation levels. You should then take your child home and monitor them for the remainder of the day — definitely no return to school until at least the next day.

Safety is a top priority when using any sedation therapy — dental professionals follow strict procedures and protocols, as well as adhere to certification requirements enforced by many states. Performed in this manner, conscious sedation can help ensure your child’s experiences in our office are pleasant, and will hopefully result in a greater willingness when they grow up to continue professional dental care.

If you would like more information on conscious sedation for children, 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 “Sedation Dentistry for Kids.”


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
August 04, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   dental implants   smoking  
SmokingmayIncreasetheRiskofEarlyImplantFailure

In a recent study, 92% of dental implants were found to have survived the twenty-year mark — an impressive track record for any dental restoration.

Still, implants do fail, although rarely. Of those failures, tobacco smokers experience them twice as often as non-smokers. The incidence of early failure (within the first few months after implantation) is even higher for smokers.

Early implant failure typically happens because the titanium implant and the surrounding bone fail to integrate properly. Titanium has a natural affinity with bone — the surrounding bone will attach and grow to the titanium in the weeks after surgery, forming a strong bond. An infection around the implant site, however, can inhibit this integration and result in a weaker attachment between bone and implant. This weakness increases the chance the implant will be lost once it encounters the normal biting forces in the mouth.

Smokers have a higher risk of this kind of infection because of the way tobacco smoke alters the environment of the mouth. Inhaled smoke burns the mouth’s top skin layers and creates a thick layer of skin called keratosis in its place. Smoke also damages salivary glands so that they don’t produce enough saliva to neutralize the acid from food that’s left in the mouth after eating. This creates an environment conducive to the growth of infection-causing bacteria. At the same time, the nicotine in tobacco can constrict the mouth’s blood vessels inhibiting blood flow. The body’s abilities to heal and fight infection are adversely affected by this reduced blood flow.

The best way for a smoker to reduce this early failure risk is to quit smoking altogether a few weeks before you undergo implant surgery. If you’re unable to quit, then you should stop smoking a week before your implant surgery and continue to abstain from smoking for two weeks after. It’s also important for you to maintain good brushing and flossing habits, and semi-annual dental cleanings and checkups.

Although smoking only slightly raises the chances of implant failure, the habit should be factored into your decision to undergo implant surgery. Quitting smoking, on the other hand, can improve your chances of a successful outcome with your implants — and benefit your life and health as well.

If you would like more information on the effects of smoking on dental health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.


By Signature Smiles Dental Care, Ltd
August 01, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: toothache   tooth pain  
ToothPainLeadstoJailBreak

When a 51-year-old Swedish man developed a throbbing toothache with facial swelling, he knew he needed to get to the dentist right away. There was only one problem: The unnamed individual was inside the Östragård minimum-security prison, serving a short sentence. But he didn’t let that stop him from getting dental treatment — he simply broke out of jail and headed straight for the nearest dental office.

“In the end, I just couldn’t stand it,” he explained to the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

After the offending tooth was extracted, the offender himself went to the local police precinct and turned himself in. Taking his circumstances into account, the court added just 24 hours to his original sentence, and he was released soon thereafter. “Now I only have to pay the dentist bill,” he noted.

While we certainly don’t encourage jailbreaks, we might feel that this fellow made the right choice. It’s important to know when you need to get dental treatment right away, and when you can wait. Here are some very basic guidelines:

  • If you’re suffering a traumatic dental injury that is causing you severe pain, or you can’t control bleeding after applying pressure for a few minutes, go to the nearest emergency room right away (as you would for any serious injury).
  • If your tooth is knocked out or loosened, it should be treated in the dental office or emergency room within 6 hours. Place it back in its socket (in the correct orientation), if possible; if not, tuck it between the cheek and gum, or put it in a glass of cold milk. Hold the loose tooth gently in place. It’s often possible to successfully re-implant a tooth that has received quick first aid.
  • If a tooth is chipped or cracked less severely, try and save any missing pieces, and make an appointment to come in as soon as you can. Don’t forget to bring the pieces with you!
  • If you have acute or persistent tooth pain, come in to our office right away. There are many things that can cause tooth pain, including tooth decay (a bacterial infection), a loose filling, or tooth sensitivity. Minor sensitivity or occasional aches when chewing can be temporarily eased by rinsing with warm salt water and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever; more severe pain may indicate that you need root canal treatment to preserve a tooth in which the pulp has become seriously infected.

Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something’s wrong. When you experience mouth pain, it’s best for you to see us as soon as possible. Quick treatment just might save your tooth — and perhaps save you from a far steeper bill for tooth replacement. If you would like more information about dental emergencies, call our office for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Pain? Don’t Wait!